If you live in Maine, yeah. But if you lived in North Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan or New Jersey, not so much. Those states face efforts to rob citizens of their most precious civic possession, their vote. And just after Maine turned back a similar effort.

Our right to vote has been under threat for a couple of decades. Until recently, the challengers — you know them mostly as the Republican party, but now the Democrats are getting in on the thievery as well — usually failed. But lately, they are gaining ground.

The attitude might be summed up, as a caller to NPR said on Wednesday, as: “Anything the Republicans do to take power away from Democrats is all right with me.” I hope that this Republican’s view that elected Democrats have no right to govern is not the view of most Republicans. It certainly was not my view when I was a Republican.

Around here, Republicans have repeatedly challenged the right of college students to vote in Farmington. This despite the law that makes it clear students may vote where they live or where their parents live. Not both, or course. Students spend more than half the year on campus. Most of us vote where we spend the most time.

Fliers distributed at Bates College and UMF suggested that students had to have Maine drivers licenses, register their cars in Maine and be subject to Maine income tax. Kristen Muszynski, the secretary of state’s spokeswoman, set out the requirements: “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.”

On Nov. 6, Bill Crandall of Farmington put up a large banner at the Farmington voting site suggesting that UMF students had to take those further steps if they were to vote here. Word spread rapidly around the campus, and, according to a Democratic observer, students in droves walked over to vote. Democrats carried Farmington, but there is no breakdown of how many votes were cast by UMF students.

Can you say boomerang?

(By the way, during the ice storm in 1998, Crandall brought a generator to my farm to fire up the pump that drew water for my baby turkeys. He’s a good guy and civic minded.)

Maine’s biggest challenge to the voters’ voice came from Rep. Bruce Poliquin, who sued to overturn the results of the election in which Rep.-elect Jared Golden defeated him by about 3,000 votes. On Thursday, Federal District Court Judge Lance Walker denied every point of Poliquin’s request to throw out the vote of the people.

Much of Poliquin’s case was prepared by a political scientist at the University of Maryland. Some say the argument came down to the voters being confused about ranked-choice voting, as if not-smart voters were somehow tricked into voting for Golden. What does that say about folks Poliquin had figured would have voted for him if they hadn’t been confused? Were no confused voters tricked into voting for Poliquin? I don’t believe it was the voters who were confused.

Battles to reduce the effect of the vote rage in other states. North Carolina wins top prize, with moves in 2016 to strip a new governor of some statutory powers, to gerrymander congressional districts by lumping black voters into just a few districts and with evidence that Republicans in the Ninth Congressional District tampered with ballots.

In that district, the Republican leads the Democrat by 905 votes. But the margin may have come about illegally because of ballot “harvesting” in which party operatives gather absentee ballots that voters had requested, offering to fill in and deliver the ballots. Or, they destroy them. The unreturned ballots far outnumber the 905-vote margin. It is also reported that early-ballot tallies were leaked to Republicans, which violates both state law and the sanctity of the secret ballot. The state election commission refused to certify the results until these questions are answered.

In Wisconsin, voters cast 54 percent of their ballots for Democrats. But thanks to extreme gerrymandering, Democrats hold only 34 percent of the legislative seats. While they still have super majorities, Republicans are trying to strip Tony Evers of some statutory powers before he takes office as governor. See North Carolina above.

Wisconsin’s ex-Gov. Scott McCallum, a Republican, said, “It appears . . . [like] a power grab.” Moreover, “It is not transparent. It is not a good way to create public policy.”

In Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, beat Bill Schuette, a Republican, by nine percentage points for governor. She took 53 percent of the vote in a six-way race. Now, Michigan Republicans are trying to strip Whitmer of statutory powers before the new legislature is sworn in. See North Carolina and Wisconsin above.

In New Jersey, Democrats are trying to amend the state constitution to give the majority party — for the foreseeable future, that will be Democrats — the power to appoint a panel to draw the lines of legislative districts. Even the Democratic governor opposes this sleight of ballot. Fortunately, if the Dems don’t withdraw the legislation, the people still have a say because a constitutional amendment must be approved by voters.

Much was made of the effect that the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy might have on the U.S. Supreme Court’s abortion rulings. A far wider effect may be the court turning away from accepting voting rights cases. Kennedy honored the sanctity of the vote. The jury is out (pun intended) on whether Justice Brett Kavanaugh will follow Kennedy. My bet is that he won’t, and the assault on our sacred vote will continue.

Bob Neal studied political science at UMKC and Vanderbilt. He’s glad he didn’t attend the University of Maryland, where Poliquin’s chief lawsuit adviser is a political scientist.


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