Voter residency consequences stirs debate in Farmington

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Bill Crandall of Farmington stands outside the polls at the Farmington Community Center on Tuesday, beside a banner listing the consequences of declaring voting residence by registering to vote in Maine. (Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal)

FARMINGTON — Bill Crandall of Farmington stood outside the Community Center on Tuesday, beside a banner listing the consequences of declaring voting residence by registering to vote in Maine.

He passed out copies of the Maine Residence Fact Sheet posted on the Maine Secretary of State’s website.

Crandall said he was upset because Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap did not mention voter residence consequences in a recent appearance on a television news program. Therefore, Crandall said, he was doing voter registration education. 

According to the fact sheet, if one registers to vote in Maine, he or she has declared residency, “which may have consequences for compliance with other Maine laws, including the motor vehicle laws and tax laws.” 

Dunlap said there is no connection between motor vehicle laws and the right to vote. There are civil obligations, such as getting a driver’s license within 30 days, but one does not have to do that before voting, Dunlap said.  

“I did not tell people they couldn’t vote,” Crandall said.

Some people got upset with him while others thanked him. He directed people where to vote.

The first sentence under consequences reads, “U.S. citizens who have reached the age of majority have an unquestionable right to vote and that right cannot be impinged upon based on compliance with other laws that relate to residency.” 

A voter-protection volunteer from the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine and a voter protection lawyer from Portland were at the Farmington polls. The ACLU representative said UMF students were intimidated. The lawyer said Town Clerk Leanne Dickey had everything under control and no one was turned away from voting.

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