AUGUSTA — Though there is no evidence of voter fraud in Maine, Gov. Paul LePage said Friday that he plans to ask the Legislature to require voters to show an identification card “as a simple way to safeguard the most sacred right we have in our democracy.”

“We must discourage voter fraud, and we must ensure that noncitizens and nonresidents are not voting in our elections,” the governor said in his weekly radio address.

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said this week that in his time at the helm of Maine’s elections, he’s heard of about 200 complaints of possible voter fraud. None panned out, he said.

The closest anyone came to violating the law, he said, were two people who moved from one town to another and mistakenly thought they could vote in their new hometown after already casting an absentee ballot in their previous one.

In both cases, Dunlap said, prosecutors said they wouldn’t press charges because the voters hadn’t intended to do anything wrong. They were simply confused, Dunlap said.

LePage has often asserted that there is voter fraud at the polls in Maine but has never produced any evidence of it.

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There is no evidence that noncitizens or nonresidents are casting ballots in Maine, Dunlap said.

In his radio address, LePage hailed two states, West Virginia and Iowa, where voter ID laws went into effect this year.

“Across the nation, legislatures are recognizing the need to protect our sacred right to vote,” he said. “They realize stronger measures must be put in place to protect the ballot box from those who would abuse it.”

LePage pointed to the experience in New Hampshire, which has a voter ID law, as a reason for Maine to adopt one as well.

He said that on Election Day in 2016, 5,903 people registered in New Hampshire “for the first time using an out-of-state license.”

The governor called the data “revealing” because it showed most of them had IDs from nearby states, including Maine. Most of the new votes, LePage said, were in New Hampshire’s college towns.

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“It is not illegal for these college students to vote in New Hampshire — and it is not illegal for out-of-state college students to vote in Maine,” LePage said. “However, if they vote at college, they should not be allowed to vote by absentee ballot in their home state.”

There is, however, no evidence that any of those New Hampshire voters cast a ballot anywhere else.

LePage said that if students from other states want to vote in their college town, “they should meet the residency requirements, just as anyone else who chooses to live and work and vote in Maine must do.”

Maine already requires an ID to register. One is not necessary, however, to vote.

He said that requiring IDs is not a hardship. They’re already “required for buying alcohol, for driving a car, for cashing a check, for boarding a plane, for starting a job, for checking into a hotel and for many everyday activities,” the governor said.

LePage said he had to hand over an ID recently “when I was picking up a prescription in the pharmacy.”

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“It’s not unreasonable to ask voters for an ID as a simple way to safeguard the most sacred right we have in our democracy,” LePage said.

“At the start of this election year, we see people in other nations who do not have functioning democracies protesting in the streets and risking their lives,” he said. “They are fighting to make the freedoms we take for granted here a reality in their own country.” 

“This year, let us do all we can to prevent fraud in our electoral system.”

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Gov. Paul LePage (AP file photo)


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