At least 400 Bowdoin students turned out across the state to vote on both state and local issues on Tuesday, according to an estimate by the Bowdoin College Democrats (BCD).
According to Charlie Ticotsky, co-president of the BCD, his organization transported around 200 students to the polls, and he estimated that 200 others voted on their own in the area.
Charlie Priest, a Democrat who was elected to Maine's House of Representatives in the 63rd District, of which Brunswick is a part, said that it was "terrific" that Bowdoin students are voting in local elections. He also said that he thought they were well-educated about issues and candidates.
"I think most Bowdoin students are serious about elections and want to find out what the issues are," he said.
Assistant Professor of Government Michael Franz, who teaches the course Campaigns and Elections, said that Bowdoin students were thoughtful about the way they approached voting.
"I think they pay attention to the issues," Franz said. "I think they're a fairly informed electorate. They do have a stake in the outcome."
An informal survey of Bowdoin students suggested that while many had some knowledge of various issues or races, that knowledge about certain issues was often incomplete.
Samantha Weiss '07 said that the major reason she went to the polls was to vote against the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR).
"I never heard any pro stuff that went along with my beliefs," she said. "It just sounded like it was going to do bad things for school spending."
However, Weiss added that she didn't vote on any of the local issues because she didn't know anything about them.
Ted Power '07 also said that he felt like he was uninformed.
"I've never felt so uneducated about voting before," he said. "I basically just voted Democrat down the line, for everything."
Power said that he voted against TABOR.
Katie Auth '08, who voted against TABOR and for incumbent Gov. John Baldacci, a Democrat, said that she didn't vote on local issues.*
"I didn't know enough about the issues to believe that I could take a really informed position," she said.
Mike Hauser '10 said he voted for Baldacci, and that he voted yes on TABOR. When asked why he'd voted yes, Hauser said "I don't know."
Zachary Linhart, co-president of the Bowdoin College Republicans, said that he felt that students were not well-informed about local and state issues.
"I think a lot of students just go along with the trends and vote along with what their friends vote, which is pretty much a liberal-biased point of view, and don't really know the issues," he said. "The only people that know anything are the people that participate in the political parties, and maybe the people in Maine politics classes, and that's about it."
Linhart added that his organization brought around 10 to 15 people to the polls for early voting.
Alison Driver '08 drove vans to the polls for the BCD, and she said that students were attempting to educate themselves on the issues.
"It's hard to be informed about everything, but I feel like people were trying to get information on their way," she said.
Ticotsky said that he feels comfortable with Bowdoin students voting on local issues in Brunswick.
"The College and students support local business, tutor local students, use conservation land... Those are issues that the town council deals with. And we're here a vast majority of the year," he said.
On the state ballot, for the governor's office, Baldacci beat Republican Chandler Woodcock, independent Barbara Merrill, and Green Independent Pat LaMarche while the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights was rejected, 54 percent to 46 percent, with 98 percent of precincts reporting.
In Brunswick, Kathy Thorson defeated incumbent Malcolm Andrews, 58 percent to 42 percent, for the at large school board seat. In town council District 2, Jackie Sartoris defeated Carol O'Donnell, 606 votes to 580. In District 5, Gerald Favreau defeated Sean Boyles 592 to 343. For the at large town council representative, David Webb defeated Douglas Rice, 3522 votes to 3337.
Franz said that the BCD's efforts could have contributed to both Sartoris' and Webb's victories.
"Mobilization was pretty evident," he said. "It's a sign of a vibrant process."
CLARIFICATION: Katie Auth stated that she did not hold informed positions on Brunswick issues. The paragraph about her statement has been altered to better explain her comments.