#collegesafety | On anniversary of Kavanaugh confirmation, young Mainers rally to get out the vote

Marina Mozak remembers exactly where she was on Oct. 6, 2018.

“I remember sitting in my dorm room, hate-watching the confirmation hearings, crying for the pain and humiliation inflicted on Dr. [Christine Blasey] Ford,” Mozak, now digital director for NextGen Maine, wrote on the group’s Facebook. “I remember the feeling of betrayal when Susan Collins cast the deciding vote to confirm him and the gutting realization that my rights and personhood would once again be brought into question and argued before the Supreme Court.”

On the two-year anniversary of Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court, Mozak joined youth leaders from Planned Parenthood Votes and Maine Student Action on Tuesday evening in a virtual rally to unseat Sen. Susan Collins.

Mainers under 35 make up 27 percent of the state’s total voting population. With frontrunners Collins and Democratic nominee Sara Gideon locked in a virtual tie, young people might decide the outcome of Maine’s U.S. Senate election.

“We know so much of what we care about is at stake,” said Bree McGivern, a University of Southern Maine campus fellow with Maine Student Action. “No matter what happens in the coming weeks, young people committing to vote is our most powerful weapon against politicians who have spent decades packing the courts in ways that threaten our rights and our freedoms.”

After a brief introduction and overview of Maine’s voting rules, three young people from the participating groups shared times when Collins’ voting record affected their own lives.

Grace Bukowski Thall grew up in Maine and is an intern with the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund. While she was a student at Bowdoin College, Bukowski Thall attended a campus talk given by Collins in 2017.

“Collins told us that, no matter what the Republican Party said or did, she was always going to support women,” said Bukowski Thall. “And then in 2018 when [President] Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, I trusted that Susan Collins would not vote for him. When she did, that broke my heart.”

Maggie Chipman, a Maine Student Action Campus Fellow at the University of Southern Maine, shared their own experience receiving a hefty medical bill after they were diagnosed with diabetes.

“I credit that moment to realizing how little support there is for everyday people,” Chipman said. “The leaders that I trusted to protect my life have failed me. It wasn’t long after that that Susan Collins cast her vote for Brett Kavanaugh.”

Esther Pew, Marina Mozak and Bree Megivern gather via Zoom for a presentation on voting rules in Maine.

For Bukowski Thall, Kavanaugh’s confirmation and the investigation into prior alleged sexual assaults hit close to home. Her best friend, she said, was raped around the time of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing.

“Her experience in court was intensely traumatizing. Like Dr. Ford she was not only forced to relive her most traumatic moments, but she was also constantly put under fire for what she did,” Bukowski Thall said. “Susan Collins made it clear that a man can rape someone and still be confirmed to the Supreme Court.”

Blasey Ford had said that Kavanaugh had attempted to rape her while they were both high school students in the Washington D.C. area. During the confirmation, other women came forward with allegations of sexual assault.

Mozak encouraged young voters to cast their votes early — either by voting “absentee in-person” ahead of Election Day at their town clerk’s office, or by hand-delivering mail-in ballots to town offices before Nov. 3. More information about absentee voting and registering to vote can be found here.

Photo: Grace Bukowski Thall shares her reaction to Collins’ vote to confirm Kavanaugh in 2018 / Screenshot via Zoom

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