Maine GOP Chair Webster has no understanding of voting law
On July 25, 2011 At 3:20 pm
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Maine GOP Chair Charlie Webster on “out-of-state” college students voting in Maine:
“Individuals who are not residents should not vote on local matters.”
For background on same-day voter registration in Maine and the new law that would repeal it, see below.
This is the video of Charlie Webster at his press conference today, in which he describes the 206 cases of alleged voter fraud that his research has discovered. Webster turned over his “evidence” to the Secretary of State’s office this afternoon.
Webster’s statement shows that he does not have any understanding of settled law regarding where college students may vote. He says:
My research was centered on out-of-state students who come to Maine colleges on out-of-state tuition. These students actually pay more to attend school here because they are out-of-state students. They are actual residents of another state. They have drivers licenses in another state. They register their car in another state. My research actually found for the purpose of the census many of these students claim their parents home for the purpose of residency during the 2010 census.
On a final note, the simple fact is that 206 people on out-of-state tuition here are actually voting to decide who will represent our communities in the State Legislature. This ought to concern Mainers. I don’t even care who they vote for. I can’t go to Massachusetts, visit my daughter, become a resident for a day and vote there.
This fraud is outrageous.
Every November the people of Maine gather and vote on serious matters in their communities. Not only state issues, but very important local issues.
“Should we build a new school building?”
“Should we increase local property taxes to increase the fire department?”
In the last election, a recount was held in Gorham, Maine, for a legislative House seat. The winning candidate one with 36 votes. In Gorham in the last elections, my research shows that 51 out-of-state students voted. These out-of-state students could have made the difference who represent those Mainers who live in Gorham. I ask you, who is disenfranchised in this matter? Individuals who are not residents should not vote on local matters.
I am convinced that my research proves that fraud is a problem, and that I have only found the tip of the ice berg.
This statement is truly incredible, and dangerous. Note how Webster conflates college students legally registering and voting in Maine with voter fraud, and also how he pits college students against the other residents of the town where they all live.
Should Webster want to do some additional research, he could study Symm v. U.S., the 1979 decision affirming a lower court decision that found [college students can vote where they attend college http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symm_v._United_States]. It should come as no surprise that Symm was the result of a Texas County trying to deny students from a traditionally black college from being able to vote there.
What’s even more of interest is that even if the people’s veto fails, and those wishing to vote would have to register by the Thursday beforehand, it still will not address Webster’s major concern: out-of-state college students will still be allowed to vote in Maine.
In answer to my question, I was told by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles that college students are not required to obtain a Maine drivers license within 30 days of moving here to attend school.
Background: for the last 39 years Mainers have been able to register and vote on election day. The law was passed by a Republican controlled Legislature and signed by a Republican governor.
Earlier this year, a Republican controlled Legislature passed a bill (LD1376) that repeals same-day voter registration, mandating that anyone wishing to vote had to register at least two business days beforehand. It was signed into law by Maine’s Tea Party Republican Gov. Paul LePage.
There is an effort to place a “people’s veto” on the ballot this November. Should enough signatures (more than 57,000) be obtained and verified, the new law will be placed on hold until the voters of Maine decide its fate.