For the first time, the Joseph McKeen Center for the Common Good facilitated voter registration efforts among Bowdoin students. After tabling efforts, the Center submitted about 200 voter registration cards to the Brunswick Town Clerk, according to Associate Director of the McKeen Center Andrew Lardie. This number does not include cards that students took away for themselves or any registrations through absentee applications. 

Liam Gunn ’17, the McKeen Center’s first-ever election engagement fellow, was pleased with the efforts.

“Bowdoin has actually never had a campus-wide Get-Out-the-Vote or registration effort,” Gunn said. “So I think it was a huge success.”

The Center will also be running vans to Brunswick’s local polling station on election day, Tuesday November 8. Gunn noted that, for students who might find voting on Tuesday inconvenient, it is also possible to vote early at Brunswick Town Hall. 

Beginning in September, volunteers tabled in Smith Union to register voters in Maine as well as provide absentee ballot applications to students from other states. The McKeen Center also hosted several events, such as a debate watching party for the first presidential debate and a discussion about a Maine ballot measure which would tighten gun background checks.

Lardie felt it was important that the McKeen Center be a resource to help students with all aspects of voter registration.

“I feel like there is an understanding on campus that if people have questions about getting registered or how to proceed, the McKeen Center can help them,” he said. “We’re not willing to tolerate having students be unregistered and not get to the polls.”

However, he also emphasized that the McKeen Center, as a part of the College’s administration, should not have to play too large of a role in what he believes should be a “student-led initiative.” 

“For students living in a residential liberal arts college setting, I expect that to be conducive to more energy being mobilized around politics,” he said. “We would love to see a very robust student presence around this stuff. And just be able to support them.”

Gunn added that students’ civic participation is relevant beyond the scope of the current election. 

“No matter who gets elected, even if it was somebody who you were supporting or not supporting, there’s still ways to get involved after the election, and it’s important that you do get involved and keep [the elected officials] accountable,” he said.