WATERVILLE — Expecting crowds of 100 or more, the city spent an extra $192 to hire extra staff to process absentee ballot requests on Wednesday for students at Colby College.

But only three students showed up.

“It’s a disappointment,” said City Clerk Arlene Strahan. “We were staffed up and ready and we enjoy the students when they come in.”

Colby College spokeswoman Ruth Jacobs said that the absentee voting day had been organized by the group Colby College Democrats.

Contacted late Wednesday, the group’s co-president, Zoe Sherman, said that she and her group were disappointed by the “low voter turnout.”

“We planned this to provide the opportunity to vote early,” Sherman said. “We are definitely hoping to see a bigger turnout on Election Day itself. I talked with many students who were not able to turn out today who will on Election Day.”

Sherman said her group was grateful to the city clerk for providing the staffing on Wednesday. She said Colby College Democrats would coordinate drivers to bring students to the city’s polls on Election Day.

The city typically coordinates an absentee voting day for Colby students during election years and in previous years students had been bused from campus, according to Strahan. During the 2008 presidential election, for instance, about 300 Colby students showed up for the occasion, she said.

Strahan said she had set up the extra staff Wednesday because her Colby student contact had said there would be an onslaught of students arriving throughout the day.

Strahan said Wednesday she could not remember who she had been in contact with at Colby to coordinate the student voting event.

“We expected at least 100 and we would be here from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” Strahan said.

Three clerks sat at tables in the lobby of City Hall with laptops and voter registration material ready. Aside from the expense of paying extra for the clerks, the city’s janitorial staff also helped with the setup, as did the city’s technology staff.

Strahan closed the operation shortly after 4 p.m. after three students had come and she didn’t expect anymore to arrive.

Given the turnout, Strahan said, she will probably not arrange for extra staff to accommodate Colby students in the future unless there’s a federal election.

Strahan pointed out that today is the last day for people to request an absentee ballot for the Nov. 8 election, although absentee ballots can still be turned in to the City Clerk until Election Day.

In addition, voters may still register to vote up to and including Election Day. Question 1 on the election ballot asks whether to reject the new law recently passed by the Legislature that requires new voters to register to vote at least two business days prior to an election. The new law, which will take effect after the new year if Question 1 fails, eliminates what is known as same-day voter registration.

Scott Monroe — 861-9239

[email protected]


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