At Orientation, a get-out-the-vote effort

Most of the registration tables on Saturday morning of Orientation focused on a student’s Bates identity, like ID photos and cards. Then there was Room G54, where students could claim part of their American identity.


In G54 stood Doug Kempner ’12 of Burlington Vt., behind a table stacked with Maine voter registration cards. Kempner, active in the Bates Democrats student organization, was wearing the club T-shirt, which prompted a few “Where are the Republicans?” questions from parents and students who stopped by. (Answer: Both political clubs were invited to staff the table; Kempner had spent the summer in Maine and was available during Orientation, while the College Republicans didn’t have a club member on campus so early.)

Kempner spent the summer in Lewiston working on a Maine citizen’s petition effort that seeks to overturn a new law that eliminates same-day voter registration, requiring new voters to register more than two business days before an election. The upshot is that college students in Maine would have to — gulp — plan ahead if they wish to vote in the state.

Supporters say the law solves the problem of unmanageable registration paperwork on Election Day, protects voting integrity and brings Maine into line with other states. Opponents say the law will dampen voter turnout. The repeal question will be on the Maine ballot in November, giving the members of the Class of 2015 who registered during Orientation something to vote for…or against.

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