There’s been a lot of talk this year about whether or not students can vote in Maine. As this great article in the Bangor Daily News points out, students can definitely vote. Court case after court case has affirmed this right, starting over 100 years ago:
In 1882, the town of Waterville denied George Sanders the right to vote because of his status as a college student in the town. Sanders sued the town, and the Maine Supreme Judicial Court awarded him $25 in damages for being denied his legal right to vote. [BDN]
In 1979, the issue went to the Supreme Court. The case was Symm v. United States, and the Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision stating that students have the right to vote where they live, without facing additional hurdles than other members of the community.
The registrar of the town, Symm, gave out questionnaires to all residents he did not personally know. Students were forced to give detailed answers on their lives, while Symm’s acquaintances faced no such questioning. The courts held that this treatment was unequal and unconstitutional.
In summary, all legal precedents in Maine and before the United States Supreme Court uphold the right of students to vote. You do not need a voter ID to vote in Maine. Maine has same-day voter registration. You can register on Election Day and vote. [BDN]
The author’s final paragraph begins in a particularly poignant manner:
A family member told me the other day that voting doesn’t matter. I disagree. If it didn’t matter, politicians wouldn’t work so hard to convince certain demographics not to do it. [bold added] [BDN]
So the next time someone tries to tell you or someone you know that voting doesn’t matter, or that you can’t vote where you live because you’re “just a student”– tell them they’re wrong and double wrong. Don’t let other people disenfranchise you.
You have the right to vote. Voting does matter, and that’s why you’ll be voting on November 6th.