Maine voters deserve proof elections stolen

Maine GOP Chairman Charlie Webster should stop talking about stolen elections until he can prove it has actually happened.

Otherwise, it's starting to sound as if Webster simply doesn't want young people to vote.

A coalition of groups last week kicked off efforts to restore Maine's 38-year-old same-day voter registration law.

Despite a nearly total lack of solid information, the 125th Maine Legislature ended the long-standing practice of allowing people to register at the polls.

Some legislators argued that the decision was designed to relieve a burden on poll workers.

But the Maine Town & City Clerks' Association, the people in charge of running the state's elections and organizing workers on Election Day, did not share that concern, nor did they support that effort.

Which left people wondering if Webster and other Republicans had ulterior motives.

Those motives became clearer when Webster told the Portland Press Herald that Democrats have used same-day voter registration to "steal elections."

That's a strong accusation. Unfortunately, Webster has offered no evidence that it's true.

"I've witnessed busloads of people coming. I've seen it in Farmington," he recently told the Sun Journal.

Webster alleged that college students were flooding the polls and then voting again in their home states.

That would, of course, be illegal.

Which raises one question: When Webster saw this happening, why didn't he do anything about it?

There are election officials and poll watchers from both parties at polling places. Webster could have presented his concerns to any of those people.

The names and addresses of all voters are a matter of public record. Webster could have easily tracked down whether those hordes of unidentified voters were truly eligible to vote.

He didn't.

It is, of course, completely legal for college students to vote where they go to school. In fact, for years the U.S. has worked hard to encourage young people to exercise their right to vote.

The turnout rate for young people was higher in the 2008 presidential election, and exit polls did show young people more often favored Democrats over Republicans.

Even so, young people continued to vote at a much lower rate than their elders.

In 2008, younger citizens (18-24) had the lowest voting rate (49 percent), while older voters (45-64 and 65-plus) had the highest voting rates (69 percent and 70 percent, respectively).

The simple truth is that voter participation increases steadily with age.

Despite increased participation in the last election, young people were clearly under-represented in the final tally.

While the blogosphere is alive with speculation about double voting, cases of it actually happening are as scare as hen's teeth.

Webster recently told the Sun Journal he was gathering evidence showing voter fraud is a real problem, particularly in towns with college campuses.

That is, basically, an open admission that the Legislature acted without such evidence.

Anecdotes and gut-feelings are a bad basis for lawmaking, yet that is exactly what was used to outlaw same-day voting in Maine.

It is patently offensive to assume young people are more likely to cheat by double-voting than older people with camps in Maine or homes in Florida.

Unless Webster can produce his evidence before November, voters should re-instate same-day voting in Maine.

rrhoades@sunjournal.com

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and editorial board.

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Comments

 's picture

The Sun-Journal Could Help Prove that there is no voter fraud

There is no evidence that there is no voter fraud in Maine. Just because the Editorial Board thinks (and writes) that there is no voter fraud in Maine, doesn't mean it is factual.

I don't know about busloads of fraudulent voters showing up to register on Election Day. What I do know is that there are thousands of 18-22 year old college students showing up to register every Election Day, especially in "Presidential Year" elections. And I do know that there are no cross checks between votes cast here in Maine college towns and against votes cast in their "home" towns.

I would like to see the Sun-Journal hire an independent firm to cross check the Lewiston votes cast against the votes cast at the "home" towns of Bates College students during the past election. The city of Lewiston records every voter casting a vote in Lewiston elections. I am sure that many of the "home" towns also keep records of who showed up at the polls or who voted absentee.

It would be swell if it was verified that every college student voting in Lewiston cast but ONE vote in the last election. It would also be satisfying to see voters who cast two or more votes charged with voter fraud and do time in the "big house."

That would be a great community service by the Sun-Journal. Voting is sacred, paid for by the blood of many, many Americans. We all get to vote ONCE per election. One violation is as bad as 10,000.

I am only dreaming, of course. Such a study is beneath the liberal mind set, because it could "never happen." So it is written.

Gerald Weinand's picture

College students can vote

The Supreme Court has ruled that college students can vote in the communities where they live while in college. It makes no difference whether you think it fair or not - it is their right. See Simms v. United States.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Yes, but it doesn't state

Yes, but it doesn't state that they can vote in their home towns also, assuming that their college residences are not their home towns. Voting in both is not permitted. I believe that is the point Mr. Stone was making.

 's picture

One Vote

My interest is in verifying that everyone votes ONCE. Vote in the college town, but not at home. Or vice versa. No one is checking on this, and that is a shame.

Jim Cyr's picture

College Students

Mr.Weinand,where may we find this supposed Simms v. United States? Just like at "Town Hall" meetings, if you are not a tax payer of the said town, voting at the meeting is not allowed.College students are not citizens of the town and should not be able to vote.Do they have a valid Maine license as all other citizens and how about car registrations must be current for citizens? If they are allowed to vote, then the state is losing a lot of revenues by them not registering their vehicles and drivers' license in this state!

Gerald Weinand's picture

You do know how to work the

You do know how to work the Google, don't you Mr. Cyr? I assume you are the same Jim Cyr that posts at AMG. Do a little work and tell us what you find.

Also, one does not have to be a "taxpayer" (by which I assume you mean property owner) to be able to vote at Town Meetings - just a resident.

Jim Cyr's picture

Don't know how

I spent quite some time on Google looking for Simms vs United states and never found any relation to voting. May I'm just numba then a box of rocks but I tried. And I have no idea what AMG is!

Gerald Weinand's picture

My apologies

The case was Symm v. US, and involved the a Texas official responsible for registering voters in Waller County, home to Prairie View A & M University. Prairie View A&M was then - wait for it now - a predominantly black college, and Leroy Symm didn't think these students should be allowed to vote in his county (which is near Houston).

The US District Court that heard the challenge to Symm overruled him, and it made its way to the Supreme Court, which refused to hear the appeal.

More:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symm_v._United_States

The actual questionnaire:

http://supreme.justia.com/us/439/1105/

Jim Cyr's picture

Don't know how part deux

P.S. And next you will tell me that the college kids can stand up at a town meeting and have a say?

 's picture

lack of evidence is evidence?

They call it argumentum ad ignorantiam, meaning argument from ignorance, and is nothing more than an attempt to shift the burden of proof. You cannot prove a negative.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Dems do it all the time, Lil.

Dems do it all the time, Lil.

 's picture

The Sun-Journal Could Help Prove that there is no voter fraud

There is no evidence that there is no voter fraud in Maine. Just because the Editorial Board thinks (and writes) that there is no voter fraud in Maine, doesn't mean it is factual.

I don't know about busloads of fraudulent voters showing up to register on Election Day. What I do know is that there are thousands of 18-22 year old college students showing up to register every Election Day, especially in "Presidential Year" elections. And I do know that there are no cross checks between votes cast here in Maine college towns and against votes cast in their "home" towns.

I would like to see the Sun-Journal hire an independent firm to cross check the Lewiston votes cast against the votes cast at the "home" towns of Bates College students during the past election. The city of Lewiston records every voter casting a vote in Lewiston elections. I am sure that many of the "home" towns also keep records of who showed up at the polls or who voted absentee.

It would be swell if it was verified that every college student voting in Lewiston cast but ONE vote in the last election. It would also be satisfying to see voters who cast two or more votes charged with voter fraud and do time in the "big house."

That would be a great community service by the Sun-Journal. Voting is sacred, paid for by the blood of many, many Americans. We all get to vote ONCE per election. One violation is as bad as 10,000.

I am only dreaming, of course. Such a study is beneath the liberal mind set, because it could "never happen." So it is written.

ANTHONY NAZAR's picture

Bullseye

Webster's response to your editorial will be the same vague assertions about busloads of Democrats pouring into the town offices to register. That might sound good at a convenience store gossip session, but it falls apart when you begin to ask for specifics. You get lot's of, "Everyone knows... ," but nothing else.

The truth is this is part of a nationwide drive by Republicans to suppress the vote. Other barriers are the requirement for a specific type of photo ID - usually a driver's license which may have been surrendered by some seniors for health reasons years ago. I can't wait for the poll tax and perhaps a literacy test requiring interpretation of a section of the Constitution.

Webster comes from Farmington and Farmington Republicans have long complained bitterly about the students from UMF who vote in that and surrounding towns.

Gerald Weinand's picture

Had same-day registration been repealed in 2008

Had same-day registration been repealed in 2008, over 22,000 Mainers living in the districts of the 72 House Republicans that voted for LD1376 would not have been able to vote. Statewide, 49,666 Mainers registered and voted on election day in 2008 - 72 House Republicans, led by Speaker Bob Nutting, would have denied them that choice.

Here is a list of those 72 House Republicans, along with how many of their constituents registered and voted on election day in 2008 and 2010:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/59855681/LD-1376-GOP-Disenfranchisement-Electi...

Election Day Voter Registration & GOP Chair Webster

I strongly disagree with voter registration on election day for a number of reasons that have to do with civic responsibility and civic duty. That said, I think Charlie Webster is way off base and very wrong. I have heard many anecdotal abuse stories over the years from people I consider very credible. I have never seen any proven case that involves even 100 votes, which would have been enough to alter results in some past State Senate and State House elections. The many thousands of votes required to "steal" a U.S. House or Gubernatorial election is . . . based on existing history and proven fact versus mere repeated accusations . . . not even remotely credible nor justifiable. Charlie Webster is an ongoing embarrassment to the many who oppose "Progressive" goals and objectives in Maine and to many who espouse the Republican cause. There are enough good and respectable reasons on which to debate the same day registration issue without undermining the "nay" position terribly as Wester has so often done.

Refreshing

Thanks Arthur, it is always good to see someone who opposes same day registration, but does so for valid reasons that have merit. We may not agree on the registration process but at least you have the decency and common sense to not blindly follow someone who seems willing to resort to such underhanded tactics. I make it a habit myself to double check statements by those I support and those I don't, its the only way to have a clear perspective.

Betty Davies's picture

Webster is trying to suppress votes

It certainly looks as if Mr. Webster's real aim is to suppress votes for Democrats. He apparently thinks that's the only way Republicans can win elections. I suspect he's correct.

Betty Davies's picture

Paranoid Republicans

The assumption you state appears to belong to the Republicans, as they are so fearful of Democrats voting at the last minute that they hope to outlaw the possibility.

Infuriating

Earlier this year, when I read about this change, I did some research and couldn't find much about voter fraud in Maine. There was one case found where a man had voted in two towns, but he was caught by software they already use to verify the votes, so it seemed like that example was really an example of someone NOT getting away with it anyway.

The one thing that seemed positive about the change was easing the "horrible burden" that was being put on the election day workers. Now we find out according to the Maine Town & City Clerks' Association, that same day registration is not really a big deal for them to accomplish.

The Democrats are not the ones trying to steal elections with illegal votes, it is you, Mr. Webster who is trying to steal future elections for the republicans by passing a law based on fear, deception, and outright lies.

 's picture

But that is the GOP way

"Anecdotes and gut-feelings are a bad basis for lawmaking"

But it worked so well for LePage last year, why can't Webster do it?
Seriously, the GOP has used busloads of people coming from away for our welfare, no truth. How about our outrageously high electric rates, not true. The buffalo count, good one. During the campaign LePage claimed things were so bad that a number of towns in the state were teetering on bankruptcy. And LePage's claim about tire ruts being classified as vernal pools? They also claimed our health insurance rates are higher than neighboring states, again not true. It has become a way of life for those now in charge.
One thing is certain, you can easily tell when a republican lawmaker in Maine is lying, his/her lips are moving.

 's picture

Wow!

You do know your republicans.

 's picture

It comes with the territory

I do learn alot about the GOP, conservatives in general in my line of work.

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