WATERVILLE — Students from Waterville Senior High School marched more than a mile in the rain Tuesday afternoon from the campus on Brooklyn Avenue to City Hall in an effort to raise awareness for the importance of registering to vote and to accompany one of their number as she registered to vote for the first time.

The event, which was sponsored by the school’s National Honor Society, garnered a crowd of around 10 students.

Although the majority of the students aren’t eligible to vote in the upcoming presidential election, they marched to show support for classmate Emma Waldron, 18, who registered to vote after Tuesday’s march. Waldron, who lives in Winslow, had to take it a step farther and register at the Winslow Town Office.

“I took part in doing my civic duty and having my opinion be heard,” Waldron said.

Martha Cobb, a science teacher and faculty advisor at Waterville High School, accompanied the students on their march.

“They came to show support,” Cobb said. “It’s so important, especially for the youth to get out and vote.”

Students Zoey Trussell and Inga Zimba, who are both seniors, helped organize the event to make sure their classmates who are able to vote do so.

“Because we’re not 18 yet, we wanted to be able to do something to advocate for voting in our community,” Zimba said. “Even though we can’t vote ourselves, we wanted to make sure we not only could advocate for voting but also help our 18-year-old peers through the process of registering and helping them with this new responsibility and opportunity they have.”

Trussell emphasized the need for young Mainers to vote in the upcoming election.

Waterville Senior High School student and National Honor Society member Emma Waldron, 18, slides material through a protective barrier as she is assisted by Winslow Town Clerk and Registrar of Voters Lisa Gilliam at the Winslow Town Office Tuesday. Waldron is participating in her first election. Waldron’s friend and classmate Zoey Trussell is shown at the right. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

“This is a really important election this year.” she said.”It’s a really divisive time. Especially in Maine with young voters because Maine is going to be one of the 10 states that will be most influenced by young voters in this election. So we wanted to make sure our classmates were well informed and that they were supported and able to come to City Hall and drop off their registrations.”

Waldron will be going to vote at the polls on Nov. 3.

Absentee ballots keep coming in, according to Patti Dubois, Waterville’s city clerk and registrar of voters.

“As of today, we are up to 4,500 absentee requests, with 1,700 voters already returning their ballots,” Dubois said in an email Oct. 15. “For what it’s worth, the highest overall turnout I see in my records is 7,433 in 2016.  The highest number of absentees that have ever been returned is 3,045 which also was in 2016.”

According to Dubois, there have been questions from residents about voting absentee and in person.

Those who return their ballots before the election will be marked as already having voted, Dubois said.

Waterville Senior High School senior and National Honor Society member Emma Waldron, 18, photographs ballot information Tuesday after registering to vote in her first election. She is pictured at the Winslow Town Office. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

“So that if they go to the polls and try to vote on Election Day they will be told that their ballots have already been cast,” Dubois said. “Voters who vote on Election Day who also try to return their absentee ballots will have one vote count, whichever one is cast first.”

In-person voting is also available every day at Waterville City Hall until 4:30 p.m. The last day for early, in-person voting is Oct. 30, according to Dubois.

“It’s fast, convenient and secure,” Dubois said. “Voters who wait until Election Day to vote at the polls should expect to wait outside for at least an hour.”

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