On Tuesday, the day Maine Gov. Paul LePage told radio talk show hosts that he feared this year’s election may not be “clean,” a woman walked into Bangor City Hall and asked to speak with the clerk. Lisa Goodwin said the woman was concerned about what the governor, a supporter of Republican Donald Trump, had said and wanted to be assured that the process would be free of any funny business. “I talked with her for a while and then I told her if she still had concerns, she was more than welcome to volunteer on Election Day and see for herself,” Goodwin said. Across the state, clerks and other election officials are busy prepping for one of the most highly anticipated elections in modern times, in particular the presidential race between Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton. In recent weeks, Trump has cast doubts on the electoral process, warning his supporters that it will be “rigged,” even going so far during Wednesday night’s debate as to say he’s not sure he will accept the results. Fellow Republicans have cautioned Trump against questioning one of the bedrocks of democracy, but LePage has echoed the nominee’s allegations of potential fraud. He said the only way to combat that is to require voters to present identification at the polls.
For municipal clerks, poll workers and others gearing up to prepare for Election Day, the claims coming from Trump and LePage aren’t helpful.
“I think it undermines the whole democratic process,” said Linda Cohen, a former municipal clerk in Portland and South Portland and now a city councilor in South Portland. “When you start to put doubt in this, what do you have left?”
“On a high level, it’s easy to say ‘Oh it’s rigged,’ but when you’re in it, you realize how absurd that is.”