You may have heard the stories coming out of Maine – but we want you to know the truth. In July, a politician publicized a list of 206 students paying out-of-state tuition at Maine universities, calling the fact that they voted in Maine “evidence of voter fraud.” The Maine Secretary of State investigated these claims and unsurprisingly found that these students did not commit voter fraud – out-of-state tuition status is simply not a bar to registering or voting in Maine.
In early September, a state political party publicly “uncovered” the fact that 19 students had listed a hotel address on their voter registration cards. However, at that time the hotel was operating as a dorm for students displaced by a hurricane. Under Maine law, students may register to vote using their school address, whether it’s a dormitory, apartment, or house – so long as they consider it their home. There is no evidence these students did anything other than vote where they lived.
Now the Secretary of State has sent letters to Maine students paying out-of-state tuition – yes, the same students who were cleared of all wrongdoing in his investigation – and is asking them to obtain a driver’s license or car registration in Maine if they intend to vote there even though there is no standalone requirement to get a Maine driver’s license unless you intend to drive a car in Maine. The targeted way in which this rule is being enforced against students is unwarranted.
When the initial investigation was announced, we sent Secretary Summers a letter cautioning him against publicizing information that might wrongly intimidate student voters. Today, the ACLU of Maine, along with other voting rights groups, sent a letter to the Maine Secretary of State urging him to stop this continued intimidation of student voters.
No eligible voter should be dissuaded from voting due to misinformation and innuendo. We at the Brennan Center want students to have correct and complete information about their right to participate in the political process. In order to know the truth about voting in Maine, you can refer to the Brennan Center’s Maine Student Voting Guide which provides descriptions of the latest ID, residency, voter registration, and absentee balloting requirements.