Sarah Cross

One of the most powerful things we Americans can do is vote on Election Day.

That was drilled into our heads when we were in elementary and high school, and thank goodness.

Sometimes I hear people say they don’t vote because it won’t make a difference. When that happens, my high school teachers’ proclamations echo in my head: “If you don’t like the way things are, you have the power to change it,” and “if you don’t vote, you have no excuse to complain.”

Voting is a fundamental right and a precious privilege.

And this year, with a big presidential election coming on and voting procedures more complicated because of the coronavirus pandemic, it is more critical that we plan early for how we intend to vote.

Thankfully, we have options. We don’t have to go in person to the polls.


In Waterville, we may request absentee ballots by mail or print them off the city’s website,, and mail them back to City Hall or drop them in a secure ballot box outside the building. We also can vote by absentee ballot in person, starting Oct. 5, in the Front Street Conference Room at City Hall.

Anyone who heard Waterville City Clerk Patti Dubois’ election update to the City Council on Tuesday would likely be moved to vote before Election Day.

“Because of gathering limits and social distancing requirements, the lines will be long,” she said. “People need to plan to wait for at least an hour or more to vote on Election Day.”

The situation will not be unique to Waterville, as nearly every community is expected to adjust past voting procedures in light of COVID-19.

Dubois outlined in detail how voting will work at Waterville Junior High School. She noted there is a graphic on the city’s website showing the layout.

Registered voters will stand 6 feet apart on a purple line outside the building and be directed into the school’s gymnasium to cast ballots, but there is a gathering limit of 50 people in the gym, unlike in years past.


Those who are unregistered and need to register to vote will stand on a separate, green line outside the building and go into the school cafeteria to register. Then, they will be directed back outdoors to stand in the purple line, behind already registered voters.

“The short story is, if you wait until Election Day to register to vote, you will wait in line two times, so we’re encouraging people to register to vote early if they are new registrations,” Dubois said.

We won’t see a long string of candidates greeting voters at the main entrance this year. Because of social distancing requirements, only a few will be able to stand there, according to Dubois.

“The overflow will be on the entrance side where all the voters will be parking and walking by,” she said.

While voting absentee, in person at City Hall, is a good alternative, people also will have to wait in line there, according to Dubois. Only two people at a time will be able to vote in the Front Street Conference Room because of social distance requirements, she said.

Dubois noted that political flyers Waterville residents are receiving by mail are not being sent by the city, so if they already have requested absentee ballots, they may disregard those mailings.


I have always found voting absentee, in person at City Hall, to be quick and convenient, though I acknowledge doing so for this election may require some waiting — and patience.

The bottom line is, voting this year is going to be different. It may be harder for some of us.

Difficulties beyond our control could serve to discourage us from voting, but when things get tough, we can get tougher.

Never has it been more important to vote.

And you know how you always feel a sense of accomplishment after voting?

Expect that feeling to be more powerful than ever this time around, however you cast your ballot.


Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 32 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.