Hundreds of Bowdoin students may not visit the polls on November 4 this year?and not because they are apathetic.
Last Saturday, 409 students cast their votes early at absentee voting booths in Smith Union, set up by the Town of Brunswick. Students made up the vast majority of the voters.
Town Clerk Fran Smith said she was pleased with the number of people that voted on Saturday at Bowdoin.
"We thought...either five voters would come or we were going to be busy," she said. "I was happy with that, definitely worth the time to go there."
Voting early in Maine is considered absentee voting, according to Smith. As of Monday, October 27, a total of 3,500 people in Brunswick had already voted in the election.
According to Smith, the number is an increase from previous years. Four years ago, 3,400 people submitted absentee ballots in total, and eight years ago only 1,400 did so.
Smith said that because some students chose to use the e-mail method to request an absentee ballot, she estimated that 450 Bowdoin students had already voted.
Saturday was the first time that absentee voting was set up at the College. Smith said her office decided to come to Bowdoin because they were trying to figure out how to make the process easier.
"It could be a win-win for the staff, students, and other voters," she said.
Students seemed to be glad the polls were set up.
"It's more convenient," Sienna Kurland '12 said. "It's really nice that they're doing it for us."
Many students said they decided to vote on Saturday instead of November 4 so they wouldn't have to go to the polling station.
"[I came] mostly just to avoid the hassle of going into town and avoiding the lines," Tom Delehanty '12 said.
Despite the convenience of the polls being on campus, some students were frustrated with the waiting time involved in submitting their absentee ballot.
"I figured it would be a shorter line than on election day," Rob Halliday '09 said. "But they are slowly but surely proving me wrong."
Eric D'Elia '11 echoed Halliday's point, surprised at a line far longer than he had expected.
"I was anticipating a 10-minute wait, and when I arrived I was astonished at the line arching around the Union," he said.
Smith recognized that there were significant lines for those waiting to vote on Saturday, but she explained that this was expected because of the extra steps it takes to cast an absentee vote compared to voting on Election Day. She did not think that any voters would have to wait as long on Tuesday.
"I cannot imagine people will have to wait longer on election day just because it takes longer for absentee ballots," Smith said.
Smith also discussed why students did not need any form of ID to vote. According to Maine State Law, ID is not required to vote, absentee or regular. However, photo ID is required when registering, which was true for those doing same-day registration last Saturday.
While Smith recognized that voter fraud would not be very difficult, she said she was not worried.
"We're a big enough community, but people do know people," she said.
On the whole, Smith felt that the entire process had been a success and that the Bowdoin students were pleasant to work with, and she wanted to remind them they can still vote absentee at the Municipal Building on Federal St.
Registrar of Voters in Brunswick Pauline Brillant concurred with Smith.
"Things [ran] smoothly," she said. "The students were very courteous."