GOP head repeats unsubstantiated claim of “poll-flooding,” complains Dems are “buying votes”
On June 30, 2011 At 4:40 pm
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Charlie Webster, Chairman of the Maine Republican Party, is once again making baseless accusations regarding voting in Maine. In an email sent to over 15,000 supporters, Webster attempts to whip up opposition to the people’s veto of LD1376, the bill that would repeal Maine’s election-day voter registration.
We have all seen the buses pulling up to the polling places, displacing Maine voters with people from who-knows-where.
First, there is nothing illegal about providing transportation to a polling place – such services have been used for years, and are especially helpful for the elderly and disabled who wish to vote in person. But Webster has never provided any evidence that such transport has brought people to the polls with the intent of fraudulently voting.
In a phone call this afternoon, I asked Webster for an example of “poll-flooding.” He said it happens all the time in Farmington. I asked him who runs the buses. “I don’t know,” Webster said. He had the same response as to where these voters come from.
When asked who was being disenfranchised, Webster told me the elderly were, since they can’t wait in long lines caused by people registering to vote. I asked them how that could be, since there are two lines, one for voting and one to register. He had no explanation.
When asked how far away the polling station is from the UMF campus, Webster said, “Walking distance.”
Webster did tell me that he does have evidence of voter fraud, and that Maine Republicans will be producing that in the next few weeks.
Paying people to gather signatures began early last century. Several states subsequently passed laws to ban the practice, but these were ruled unconstitutional in 1988 in Meyer v. Grant (a case brought by Coloradans for Free Enterprise).
Paying gatherers is nothing new in Maine. In 2009, for instance, Maine Leads, a front for the MHPC, paid Trevor Bragdon’s company $235,000 to gather signatures for three ballot initiatives they had sponsored that year.
Webster said he had no problem with paying people to gather signatures, he just wanted his base to know, and that $500 a week is a lot of money. When I pointed out that it’s only $12.50 an hour (based on a 40 hour week), he noted that that is the difference between Republicans and Democrats – there are many people making less than that in Maine.
“It should be done on the Federal level,” was his response to why Maine Republicans oppose increasing the minimum wage.
Here’s the release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Maine Republican Party
BUYING VOTES AND FLOODING POLLS: LIBERAL COALITION PAYING FOR PETITION SIGNATURES
Group Paying $550 a Week to Workers to Fight Crackdown on Poll-Flooding
AUGUSTA – A coalition of liberal interest groups is paying workers up to $550 a week to gather signatures for a petition to get a ‘people’s veto’ on November’s ballot, according to recent emails. The group, which includes the ultra-liberal Maine People’s Alliance (Maine’s version of ACORN) and the state-funded group Opportunity Maine, is using cold, hard cash to maintain their ability to tilt elections in their favor.
“We all know that these liberal special interest groups have been playing games with Maine elections for a long time,” said Maine Republican Party Chair Charlie Webster. “Now we see they have become so desperate that they’re trying to buy their way onto the ballot.”
Liberal groups are attempting to use the referendum process to end efforts to stabilize Maine’s electoral process through LD1376. They obviously object to the bill because it would eliminate their ability to flood polling places with same-day registrants, a tactic used by Democrats to reduce the ability of election clerks to ensure the validity of voters’ residence.
“Democrats have made poll-flooding a regular part of their election day game plan,” continued Webster. “We have all seen the buses pulling up to the polling places, displacing Maine voters with people from who-knows-where. LD 1376 ends this malicious practice by requiring voters to register a mere two days prior to an election. Poll-flooding disenfranchises Maine voters, and it has no place in Maine politics.”
The facts show that Maine is among a very small minority of states that allow same day voting. The reason is simple – poll-flooding results in a higher percentage of voter fraud and abuse. Both New York and Massachusetts require voters to register at least 20 days prior to an election.
“$525 a week is a lot of money to the average working Mainer, ” said Webster. “It’s amazing to me that these groups, some who actually receive taxpayer funding, would honestly believe that Maine people would want to repeal legislation that finally addresses abuses within our election system.
“Maine’s working people expect our politicians to support fair elections. Eliminating the practice of poll-flooding will protect the integrity of our voting process.”
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