GOP accusations are proved wrong

Last November, Maine GOP Chairman Charlie Webster took a well-earned bow as he was praised for orchestrating an impressive Republican sweep of the Blaine House and the State House.

He was, his supporters declared, the “architect” of the Republican Party victory.

Since then, some have questioned whether the architect has become unhinged in his zeal to prove college voter fraud that just does not exist.

In July, after a personal investigation, Webster publicly accused 206 out-of-state students who attended Maine’s public universities of voter fraud.

These students all registered to vote in Maine, using their college housing addresses to establish residency, as the U.S. Supreme Court allows, despite the fact that they grew up in towns “from away.”

Maine Secretary of State Charlie Summers took the list and folded Webster’s complaints into an existing — and unrelated — investigation of identify theft at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

On Wednesday, Summers announced that, after a two-month investigation, his office found no college voter fraud.

Among Webster’s 206 potential fraudsters, 77 were registered in Maine and in their home states, according to Summers, and five voted in Maine and in their home state in the same years. No one on the list voted in two states in the same election.

So, what we have here are 206 civic-minded young Americans who cared enough to vote.

We don’t have fraud.

Webster was wrong.

He’s not likely to give up the fight, though.

Webster’s belief that college students — Democrats in particular — are gaming the system and “stealing elections” is firm.

In August, he further defined his view — a view not reflected in law or shared by the U.S. Supreme Court — on who can vote in Maine, saying that in order to vote, a person needs to establish residency by registering their car and paying taxes in the community where they live.

He was referring to college students when making that statement, but there are plenty of Mainers who don’t own cars and don’t pay taxes because they rent their homes and their income falls below the threshold for filing income taxes. Does that mean these poor folks can’t vote?

If we are to take Webster literally, and he truly wishes we would, it does.

He’s serious. And he’s relentless.

In early September, Webster publicly questioned why 19 people staying at a South Portland hotel were allowed to register and vote on Election Day in 2004.

He never called the hotel to ask who these people were, just put the accusation of a supposed 7-year-old crime out there for public consumption.

The answer to the question, if he’d bothered to ask, was that the 19 people were American citizens who were “permanent guests” of the hotel after being displaced from their Caribbean medical school by Hurricane Ivan.

These students, Democrats and Republicans among them, were continuing their education at St. Joseph’s College and staying at the hotel because the Westbrook dorms were full.

Each one of these students was an American citizen, eligible to vote in Maine.

There was no fraud.

All of Webster’s unfounded accusations and criminal insinuations have been aimed at two beliefs: He doesn’t think out-of-state tuition college students should be allowed to vote in Maine and he thinks clerks need two days to verify whether individuals are legal residents of Maine before they vote.

In the first case, the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled college students can vote in their “school” states while attending school full time.

In the second case, Webster has his two days. The Legislature eliminated same-day registration to allow time for clerks to check residency, time they didn't even ask for at the bill's hearing earlier this year. But will they even do that?

In the failed examples of potential voter fraud that Webster “exposed,” many of the students had been registered in two places for years and clerks in many states had yet to uncover the dual registrations, so what does Webster really expect to be done in two days?

Maine’s same-day voter registration has worked for decades, and while Summers warned that the system is “fragile and vulnerable,” Webster’s overplayed Chicken Little performance proved there really is no college voter fraud.

And, given that evidence, voters should re-instate same-day voting in Maine come November. Webster failed to prove his case.

jmeyer@sunjournal.com

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

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Comments

Steve  Dosh's picture

GOP accusations are proved wrong

. . Good work ?
Maybe the somewhat honorable Charlie Webster ought to apologize to folk . After all , pride always goeth before a fall
Can't wait to read about the outcome of the recent DeCoster " Gringo in Mexico " incident in Turner . Parenthetically , " Gringo en Mexico , " was a song written and performed by Wendy Waldman ( L / A Mexican - Jewish ) and performed at Bates College in 1 9 7 7
The L S J ®'s coverage of the eco-terrorists that decended upon that egg plant several years ago from Ohio , and then summarily left , was exemplary
We remember this stuff . ...
/s, your readers 11.09.22 18:30 hst •

Amedeo Lauria's picture

Who is really coming unhinged on this issue?

I don't think it's Charlie Webster who is coming "unhinged" as opined in the editorial above. I think it's those who don't care about ensuring that voting in America is done in accordance with our Constitution. Their concern is allowing non-citizens of our towns, cities, state and country to blacken in the dot; for their causes or candidates. The ridiculous assertions that Mr. Webster should pay for the Secretary of State's investigation are just one example of an attempt to intimidate a gentleman who has a honest interest in ensuring votes cast are indeed from valid sources. History is filled with voter fraud; and to think it doesn't happen in Maine is the real delusion. I hope the voters in Maine keep the two day pre-registration, as meager as it is, and follow it up with a VALID Photo ID in the future. I know Mainer's will be able to see through the smoke screen put up by PACs in November and make the right choice for Maine and our country. I won't mind showing my ID at the ballot box and I'm sure many responsible voters in Maine agree with me! God Bless you Charlie, keep turning over those rocks! Mainers appreciate it!

RONALD RIML's picture

We see that

It is you who are unhinged, Colonel.

For all your paranoia, there has been only one demonstrable instance of a non-citizen voting in Maine during the time period under investigation. Was it 'Fraud' - or a mistake? Fraud requires that an element of deceit be proven. I doubt there was a case - only your baseless allegations. Your 'Delusions.'

Why is it that Republicans - a party to which I once proudly belonged - then, like Teddy Roosevelt - left - so bent on disenfranchising American Voters? Why?

 's picture

39%

Wow lepage had 39% isn't that more then Former Governer Baldacci's last election? Anyway I think the AG is right the old same day registration is weak.

KRIS KUCERA's picture

If the GOP could . . .

. . . they'd reinstate the one and only tax they'd prefer -- the poll tax. The last thing Republicans want is young adults, college kids, and minorities voting. The GOP: the Grand OLD (White) Party.

 's picture

Most of them voted for the GOP.

With young adults, college kids, and minorities voting early and often, last November they elected a Republican governor and majorities in both houses of the legislature. So all those voters are white, huh? You can always rely on the tolerant, inclusive left to be anything but.

KRIS KUCERA's picture

Uh, puh-lease . . .

LeRage won with 39% of the vote, Sparky -- and almost all the votes were middle-aged and older white Republicans. 61% of the state voted the other way, as in not for the GOP lunatic. If you think more than a handful of minorities -- black, Hispanic, Asian -- voted for LeRage, you're kidding yourself.

The good news is, the GOP's days are ultimately numbered, because whites will be just another minority at some point in the not too distant future. (The horror. . . .) There's a reason the GOP and TEA party use the not-so-thinly-veiled slogan "Take America Back" -- yeah, back to the days when Old Man Whitey wasn't living in fear of minorities and progressive ideas.

By the way, 92% of blacks voted for Obama. The other 8% included Uncle (Clarence) Thomas and Tragically Unhip Michael Steele.

 's picture

And Mitchell lost ...

... with 19% of the vote, Krissie, meaning 81% of the state voted the other way. The bad news for the left is your stridency, here and now, that any criticism of the ?ne must come from toothless white rednecks and their black lackeys.

OK, Breton, where are you? You're the CEO of Racism R Us. What do you think of Krissie's post? Reminds me of Bull Connor, a card-carrying Democrat.

KRIS KUCERA's picture

What grade are you in, Mike?

Krissie? D'you think of that one all by yourself? 'Cause I've never heard that one before. What a knee slapper.

I didn't vote for Mitchell. Voted for Cutler, and it's a darn shame he lost by one percentage point. But that's the way the cookie crumbled.

Isn't "toothless white rednecks" redundant?

 's picture

Wow!

What a thundering condemnation! But I will grant you that Mr. Kucera's descriptions of Mr. Steele and Justice Thomas could have been more discreet.

So the answer seems to be, we must recruit non-white voters into Maine to counteract the vicious racism exhibited by the current inmates. That's been going on for years with indifferent results, at best. Every voting bloc, except one, tends to be as "conservative" as any other. You put your thumb right on the exception from 2008 with people voting on exactly one issue - skin color. It's too bad more people don't vote for people like themselves - Americans.

 's picture

he lied

as the "architect" of a new OP majority he lied, as did the republican candidates. None of them campaigned saying that they would "fix" same day registration. They campaigned on jobs and the economy, on utility rates and education. None of these things has really attracted the attention of our lawmakers.
So what does Charlie Webster do? Keeps on lying, it worked in 2010, he's figuring it will work again in 2011.
The sad part is that it probably will, there are enough people in Maine that are just casual viewers of the events of the day. They'll see the headline lies that Webster has accrued, they'll read "voter fraud", much like they read buffalo count, tires ruts are vernal pools, etc and they'll keep the status quo.
The media has a clear job ahead, it owes the people of this state the truth, in headlines as big as the "fraud" was. "Lies", "Webster Lied" and "GOP Lied" strike me as good starts.

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