By Haley Hersey, Staff Writer
On a local and national level, the 2020 election was full of controversies and high stakes for many. Deciding whether or not to vote in any election is an important decision. Voting is a right of every United States citizen, but it is also the civic duty of citizens to vote. After Joe Biden was elected President-Elect with Kamala Harris as Vice President-Elect and incumbent Senator Susan Collins was re-elected, opinions were heard everywhere, especially from students at the University of Southern Maine.
According to the Associated Press, the highly competitive senatorial race in Maine made history for being the first ranked-choice senate election. Maine voted ranked-choice for the presidential election as well this year. The result was Susan Collins beating Sara Gideon with 51.1% of the votes compared to Gideon’s 42.2%. Independents Lisa Savage and Max Linn did gain some traction in the race with Savage amassing 5% of the vote.
Maine and Nebraska are the only states in the country that within their state constitutions allow for the splitting of electoral votes. In the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden took three of Maine’s four electoral votes and 52.9% of the votes. Donald Trump got the remaining one electoral vote and 44.2% of the votes. Ultimately, Biden was determined, President-elect.
Through the happiness and excitement of elections, it is important to be educated on some of the dark aspects that can arise.
Cami Gibson, a senior theatre major with a dance minor, confided about her struggles with voting saying, “It was very hard for me to vote as a first-time voter, I got denied to vote twice and had to call the voter hotline to be able to vote. I had been trying to vote for two hours and finally was able to. Which is why I believe young voters get stressed to vote because it’s people in the older generations running the poles. My advice would be, do not be afraid and never take no for an answer.”
Voter suppression is real and it is responsible to know your rights as a voter. The state of Maine allows for same-day voter registration, meaning you can walk into your polling location and register to vote on election day. To register you must provide an ID and proof of residency. Usually, a license or state ID and a piece of mail suffice. Maine has absentee voting and mail-in voting. At 8 pm, Maine closes its polls, but if a citizen was in line at that time they legally cannot be denied the right to vote.
First-year political science major, Sabrina Calas shared that there is a “pervasive cynicism towards public participation in those who disavow the American government. I sympathize with this perspective, as to whether or not a government deeply embedded within the oppressive framework it was conceived from can truly incite radical change, is a complex question that even the most lauded scholars fail to answer. Yet I’d urge the public, especially those younger eligible voters, to not completely repudiate the American political system.”
Understanding how the government works, as Calas stated, is an important part of being educated in order to make informed decisions when voting.
For many students at USM, this was the first election they voted in, and felt like their vote truly made a difference. This sentiment is echoed by young and first-time voters who are realizing the importance of voting and staying informed. For more information on voting rights and laws in Maine, visit https://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/voter-info/right.html.