The July 31 Sun Journal included a column written by Douglas Rooks, titled "Webster's real problem is with the Constitution."
After reading his comments, I realize that he and I have at least one thing in common — neither of us are attorneys. The lawyers that I have spoken with have a different opinion than Mr. Rooks.
Rooks is right that the Supreme Court has ruled that students attending college are allowed to vote where they reside. In other words, the fact that they are students does not disqualify them from becoming eligible to vote.
Where I believe the confusion is that students or anyone legally qualified may vote where they intend to reside.
I have been told by several attorneys that the key factor is "intent."
Once you register to vote you are, at that moment, indicating that you "intend" to become a resident of the town, and state, where you register, because you are declaring residency. At that moment, you must obey the laws, just like every other citizen.
Residents of Maine must pay income taxes (if they have an income); they must register their car (if they own one); and, if you have drivers license, must (within 30 days) either change your license to a Maine license or update it with the appropriate address. These are requirements once you choose residency.
I feel strongly that everyone who is a resident of our community should become active voters in every election. On the other hand, I do not believe that people who live in another state should be allowed to vote in Maine. If someone wishes to join our community, declare their residency and obey our laws, I welcome them with open arms. For me, the right to vote is important.
I honestly believe when a senior citizen or local carpenter stops by to vote on the way back from work, his vote should mean something. They need to feel comfortable knowing that their vote potentially won't be cancelled out by someone from New Jersey who doesn't even reside in their town, or state, and has no intention on doing so. Their right to vote is important.
I'm sure that the Constitution is clear in this regard; you vote were you live and obey the laws of your municipalities and state.
Charles Webster, Farmington
Chairman, Maine Republican Party