Charlie Webster sounds a lot like LeRoy Symm. Symm, the registrar of voters in Waller County, Texas, had a special questionnaire he used for college students. It included questions such as: Do you own property in the county? Where did you attend church? What are your job plans?
If Symm and his deputies knew a voter by name and face, they were simply registered. College students had to pass Symm’s test. The U.S. Supreme Court in 1979 said this violated the Constitution, thereby establishing the practice of allowing college students to list their dormitory as their residence for the purposes of voting.
Three decades later, the ruling has not deterred Webster, the Maine Republican Party chairman, who weeks ago brandished a list of more than 200 college students he said likely engaged in voter fraud.
“I get tired of talking about this because the law is clear,” Webster said this week. “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.”
The law is fairly clear, but that’s not what it says.
According to Maine’s Secretary of State’s Office, three things are required of registered voters: They must be a U.S. citizen, they must have established and maintained a residence in the municipality where the person intends to register to vote, and they must be at least 17 to register or 18 to vote.