Webster makes case for voter probe

AUGUSTA — The chairman of Maine's Republican Party on Monday released what he said is evidence of ongoing voter fraud in the Pine Tree State.

Pat Wellenbach/AP photo

Charles Webster, chairman of the Maine Republican Party, attends a rally at the State House in Augusta on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010.

Charles Webster, a former state lawmaker from Farmington, said he had discovered 206 people who were registered to vote in Maine but were also enrolled in Maine's public university system as paying "out-of-state" tuition rates.

Some, he said, are not even residents of the United States and others voted both in Maine and in their home states or went between the two deciding which state to vote in depending on the election or issues.

Webster's release comes in the wake of a petition drive that aims to repeal, by a statewide ballot initiative, a recently enacted and Republican-sponsored state law that eliminates Maine's same-day voter registration system.

Under the new law voters will have to register at least two business days prior to an election in order to vote. Supporters of the new law, like Webster, say it's an attempt to reduce voter fraud in Maine.

But opponents of the new law have said the new law will suppress voting and voter turnout. They have also said there is no proof of widespread voter fraud in Maine and over the last few decades only two cases have been prosecuted.

Webster presented his findings to Maine's Secretary of State Charlie Summers, who said he would look into them, according to The Associated Press.

Webster also provided a list of names to the media but most of the identifying information was redacted. On Webster's list were only the alleged voter's first initial, year of birth and out-of-state hometown.

"I have been around Maine politics for over 30 years and have been concerned with voter fraud for a long time," Webster said during a news conference at the State House. For months Webster has asserted some have exploited Maine's same-day registration by flooding the polls with newly and even illegally registered voters on Election Day. But during his news conference Monday, Webster said he began a formal investigation into the matter only three weeks ago.

Webster said in seven to eight days he and his secretary doing telephone research were able to cross reference the names of out-of-state tuition paying students with voter registration records. Webster also said that his research found that many of out-of-state students claimed their parents' homes for purposes of residency in the 2010 Census. It's evidence, according to Webster that, people who should be ineligible to vote in Maine have been allowed to do so.

According to Maine state law, students are eligible to register to vote in the municipality in which they attend school, as long as they have established residency there. There is not a period of time required for a person to establish residency. The University of Maine System has different guidelines to establish student residency. A student may only be granted in-state tuition if he or she has proven that she has established residency for reasons other than academic, regardless of the length of time that he or she has lived in Maine.

According to the Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions, a student may still vote in his or her home municipality, but may only maintain a single residence in which they may vote. "This may not be construed to prevent a student at any institution of learning from qualifying as a voter in the municipality where the student resides while attending that institution," according to its website.

Webster said Monday that special interest groups were, "poll flooding" voting places in an attempt to win.

Webster, a former state lawmaker, has won several decisive elections in his hometown of Farmington, the host town for a University of Maine campus. On Monday, he said the issue was not a partisan one for him.

"The simple fact that 206 people, here on 'out-of-state' tuition, are actually voting to decide who will represent our communities in the state Legislature ought to concern Mainers," Webster said in prepared remarks. "I don't even care who they vote for."

Republicans have won the local vote in last two gubernatorial contests in Farmington. In 2006, voters there selected Republican GOP candidate Chandler Woodcock, a hometown favorite, over the incumbent Gov. John Baldacci, a Democrat from Bangor.

Woodcock won 337 more votes than Baldacci, who prevailed on the statewide ballot. In 2010, Paul LePage, the Republican, won Farmington over independent candidate Eliot Cutler with 251 more votes than Cutler. Democrat Elizabeth Mitchell was a distant third with 744 votes.

In other Maine college towns, including Lewiston, the home of Bates College and Waterville, the home of Colby College, in 2010 Cutler came in second place to LePage.

In Brunswick, home of Bowdoin College, LePage placed third behind both Cutler and Mitchell and in Orono, the hometown for the University of Maine's flagship campus, Cutler won, with Mitchell placing second and LePage in third.

In Gorham, the home to the campus of the University of Southern Maine and one of the town's highlighted in Webster's evidence, LePage finished second in 2010, only 37 votes behind Cutler, with Mitchell again in third place.

Webster said Monday that 51 out-of-state students voted in 2010 in Gorham.

"These 'out-of-state residents' could have made the difference on who would represent those Mainers living in Gorham," Webster said. "I ask you — who is disenfranchised in this scenario? Individuals who are not residents — should not vote on local matters. I am convinced my research proves that fraud is a problem and I have only found the 'tip of the iceberg.'"

Meanwhile, according to records compiled by Maine's Secretary of State, a total of 4,468 Democrats registered to vote on Election Day 2010 compared to 4,405 Republicans who registered to vote on Election Day.

Those hoping to restore Election Day registration in Maine said Webster had not offered any definitive proof of election fraud.

"He didn't present any evidence of anything," said David Farmer, a spokesman for Protect Maine Votes, a political action committee working to repeal the newly enacted law banning same-day registration. "He didn't even claim that he could document any of the supposed irregularities that he was pointing to occurred on Election Day."

Evert Fowle, Kennebec County district attorney and a supporter of same-day voter registration, said there have been very few complaints about voter fraud in Maine and even less evidence of it.

"My office aggressively prosecutes violations of the law," Fowle said, also in a prepared statement. "We have never had any suggestion made to us that the Election Day registration of voters has led to the commission of any criminal acts. The lack of prosecution has to do with the lack of any allegation suggesting abuses of the present system, much less any proof to back up any such assertion.”

sthistle@sunjournal.com

Charlie Webster's remarks on voter fraud in MaineNon-resident registered voters in Maine

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Comments

Chris Blake's picture

Stretching the point to breaking

Isn't this the same guy that said he had undeniable proof that out of state voters were being bussed in to steal state elections?

I don't see that. He said these results prove that the people of Gorham aren't represented by the person they wanted? I'd like to hear him tell the governor he only has to work for the towns that voted for him. Hell, I'd like to hear how many people actually care enough to find out how their town or district voted in a STATE-WIDE election.

There's no legal basis for fraud in this list of names. They were complying with the rules of the college and the state and the country. Prove to me these same people did in fact vote elsewhere and don't just imply it, if you want to prove anything to me.

Chris Blake's picture

Counting is HARD

"For the past three months I've seen all the whiny liberals say that this was nothing more than a plot to keep democrats from voting - funny how when the numbers show more Republicans than democrats register same day none of you see fit to acknowledge your error, or shall we call it foot in mouth disease?"

That's because 4,468 Democrats is actually more than 4,405 Republicans. If I have foot in mouth disease, at least it doesn't seem as hindering as whatever it is you have that makes bigger than and smaller than so difficult.

Jonathan Albrecht's picture

Webster facts aren't facts.

The People's Veto is on legislation that repeals election day registration.
Do you see anything about Election Day registration in Charlie's misinformation. I don't.
Charlie has good reason to have been concerned with voter fraud over the last 30 years. Republicans are well known for it in rural Maine during that time, but the HAVA (Help America Vote Act) implemented a few years ago eliminated most problems in the system. With a single statewide voter registration file and checks against motor vehicle, census, and post office change of address information duplicate registrations can be kept to a minimum.
To be voter fraud involving same day registration, these students have to be registered in both Maine and their home state. Charlie presents no such evidence. In addition they have to vote in both states. Charlie presents no such evidence. In addition, they would have to have registered on Election Day. Charlie presents no such evidence.
If Charlie was going to Maine's law school he'd be laughed out of class.
Poll flooding is a problem for Charlie because legal voters of Maine don't like him or his party as they are learning from this 4 year aberration.

Licia Kuenning's picture

Are the lists up to date?

I'll be watching this one--but it seems worth pointing out that the voter lists I have obtained from the town of Farmington on two separate occasions were both badly out of date. If other municipalities don't do a better job of keeping their lists up to date it's no wonder if some people are on the lists in two places without their having voted in two places.

ANTHONY NAZAR's picture

The stuff of which urban legends are born

Half truths are not true. And Charlie knows that and uses them all the time. Several elections ago, he started a whisper campaign in rural Franklin County questioning the sexual orientation of a Democrat in favor of equal rights for gays. He knew those to whom he whispered would pass it through the rumor mill without questioning it.

Charlie, when I moved from Wrangell, Alaska to Wellesley, Mass. and then on to Wilton, Maine, the chances are my name was on the list of registered voters in a three places. I voted only in Wilton but, using your paradigm (look it up), I committed voter fraud because I COULD have voted absentee in the other two venues.

The fact of the matter is that Franklin County Republicans have long been apoplectic about the presence of a large number of students in Farmington who tend to vote for liberal candidates (horrors). They have used the whisper campaign, innuendo, half truths and downright lies to try to stop the students from exercising their Constitutional right to vote. But, Charlie and his sycophants haven't challenged because they know they are wrong.

So, with the help of a compliant legislature far more concerned with whoopie pies and blueberry pie, they passed a law to make it more difficult to vote. When I first registered to vote, I had to prove I could read AND understand what I was reading. I also had to pay a poll tax. Had I been of the "wrong" kind, the town clerk could have denied me the right to vote based on my interpretation of the passage of the Constitution I had to read. That tactic was a well known method of keeping blacks from voting. But, I'm white, so I was permitted to register and vote.

There is a national campaign coordinated by the Republican Party to suppress the vote. Fewer voters tend to favor conservative causes. Charlie is part of that campaign.

Terry Donald's picture

Which tool is Webster!

Well said sir, well said!
It is sad that the GOP has fallen so far in Maine as to select a guy like Webster to head up their party. The guy has the analytical skills of a 4th grader, but the lying skills of a governor!

RONALD RIML's picture

Would somebody tell that Idiot Charlie Webster

That in 1979 the United States Supreme Court, in it's Decision SYMM v. U.S - 439 U.S. 1105, found that all students have the right to vote where they attend college.

Read the following 2008 article: College Students Still Face Voting Stumbling Blocks

If you're looking for a lawsuit, Charlie - you just might find one. I though we got rid of folks like you along with the white sheets and burning crosses.......

Jim Cyr's picture

Wrong case

Mr. King Spin is at it again! The quoted court case does not state "all students have right to vote where they attend college". The court case stated the "questionnaire" was the violation in regards to the 26th Amendment. And if a foreign student wants to vote, he should? I think a review of what constitutes "Residency" is a requirement! And certainly clarified.

RONALD RIML's picture

Sorry to busy your bubble, Rev Jim....

You don't understand how law and judicial review work Jim - that's pretty obvious.

A three-judge federal district court in Texas had thrown out Symm's questionnaire. This - in effect - recognized the students' right to vote without jumping through Symm's hoops.

In an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court:

LeRoy SYMM, Tax Assessor-Collector of Waller County, Texas
v.
UNITED STATES et al
No. 77-1688

- The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the three-judge district court without comment. This effectively recognized the right of students to vote where they attended college.

You really do need to take some Constitutional Law Courses at an accredited University

RONALD RIML's picture

Don't stop now

Provide the Court's 'Legal Review of Residency' as you put on the table.

Mark Wrenn's picture

boob

What a boob. How long do you have to live in Maine in order to pay in state tuition? How long do you have to live in Maine to register to vote?

Terry Donald's picture

time to go to court!

If I'm one of the people on that list, I'm suing Charlie Webster all the way to Boston. What a complete tool? Taking 206 names of students who registered to vote here, they can do that legally Charlie.
You have no evidence of fraud, today you have lost what little credibility you had.
The new GOP, myth, hearsay, anecdotes, and outright lis, what ever it takes!

John Clement's picture

So, let me get this straight,

So, let me get this straight, you claim to be an 1990 alum from Xaiver and you claim you are a currently enrolled college student (thats what the story said) with an out of state residence (even though you live and run a business in Litchfield) and you are a registered voter in Maine? So confused but eagerly waiting your lawsuit.

Terry Donald's picture

Read John

So let me get this straight, being a "right thinking" male, from Bristol, TN you have a reading comprehension problem.
1st word John, "If". Get that now?

Kevin Murphy's picture

The posted list was how it

The posted list was how it was given to the press. I believe the Sec of State received one with the full names. IMO voting shouldn't be a last minute thing. If you want to vote you shouldn't complain about having to register before hand.

 's picture

notice every name is

notice every name is redacted, and every claim is prefaced by 'may' Seems to me eight months AFTER the last election is a strange time to bring this up, why didn't he do it sooner?

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