Maine college students are under attack by the chairman of the state’s Republican Party who recently “brandished a list of more than 200 college students he said likely engaged in voter fraud.”
The problem? There’s no evidence that any of the 206 young people who voted in recent elections did anything wrong.
Republican Party chair Charlie Webster is attempting to challenge students’ right to register and vote where they attend school, indicating some had registered in their home state and then re-registered on campus, according to a report this week from the Bangor Daily News.
Earlier this week, Webster offered flawed reasoning for the move:
I get tired of talking about this because the law is clear. If I want to vote, I need to establish residency. I need to register my car and pay taxes in that community. You can’t just become a student and vote wherever you want.
But there’s a clear problem with Webster’s arguments—that’s not the law.
In fact, under Maine law, students are entitled to register to vote where the attend school, permitted they can establish citizenship, age, and residency—the latter of which can be with something as simple as a piece of mail or an oath.
And several precedents indicate Webster’s allegations are unfounded. A 1979 Supreme Court ruling said students can list their dormitory as a residence and, in 2008, former Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe said a proposed bill to bar on-campus students from registering there was unconstitutional.
Some—including Ben Grant, chair of the Democratic Party—say Webster’s list is an attempt to suppress young voters, who often vote Democratic. Grant says:
He doesn’t want students to vote in Maine. Everything else he’s said has been a smokescreen. The key issue is people voting in more than one place and that hasn’t happened.