By Megan Nadeau, Staff Writer
Many UMF students who live out of state or are registered to vote in towns other than Farmington are requesting absentee ballots for the 2012 Presidential Election.
In an email interview, Professor James Melcher, a political science professor at UMF, said he “encourages his students who are eligible to get informed and cast an informed ballot, whether that’s back home or in Farmington.” Melcher believes that students should play a part in making a difference in their government.
With absentee voting, students can still give their decision even though they are not in their hometown. However, with absentee ballots come pros and cons of not voting on Election Day.
“Casting an absentee ballot is nice because I can do it on my own time and work around my schedule,” said junior Alyssa Carignan, “It also gives me the time to research each decision one by one and have the information handy when I cast my vote.”
UMF junior Carly DeSimone said, “I like absentee voting because I don’t feel pressured like I do at the voting booths. At the booths, it’s like everyone is waiting to get in after you so you rush through and forget what you had researched about the candidates.”
“In Maine, it’s not that hard to apply to receive an absentee ballot so you can vote,” said UMF junior Emily Higgins. “All I had to do was make sure I was registered in my hometown; it was as simple as sending out an email to a friend.”
Melcher also explained that the process in Maine is simple. “Maine makes it relatively easy to vote absentee and so the parties are pushing it hard,” he said.
Voting absentee ballot is beneficial for students here at UMF who are unable to return home because voting day is a school day. “Since Election Day is a school day, it frees things up that way as well–many students would not be in a position to vote in their home towns,” said Melcher.
Although there are many pros for students being able to vote while away at school, Melcher also believes there are some negative aspects of absentee voting. “I think people miss out by not voting on Election Day at the polls–the experience ties you to the community, lets you make contact with people (including candidates), sign petitions for future initiatives and more,” said Melcher, “There’s also the risk of having your ballot in the mail, or having a vaguely marked ballot not count if they can’t make out the voter’s intent–unlike the optical scan machine I vote on in my city (Augusta) which will spit the ballot back if it isn’t marked properly.”
Carignan also made note of the cons of having to vote absentee. “I do not get to have the physical experience of going to the polls on Election Day to vote, it’s kind of a bummer since I’ve never been eligible to vote in a Presidential Election before,” Carignan said.
As Election Day draws near, students make their decisions on whom to vote for and send in their ballots. “Many students like being able to tell their friends or post on Facebook, ‘Hey, I’ve already voted for my candidates and issues,’” said Melcher.