In a perfect world, Secretary of State Charlie Summers’ press conference on Wednesday would have produced one of two story lines.
The first: Summers stuns the state with clear evidence of widespread fraud by voters who illegally registered and cast ballots in Maine on past Election Days.
The second: Summers, conceding that his two-month search for same-day registration fraud has come up dry, apologizes to Maine citizens for wasting their tax dollars on a wild goose chase.
But this, as we’re all painfully aware, is not a perfect world. So here we are once again, stuck with story line three: Summers, unable to back up the Maine Republican Party’s claims that same-day voter registration has suddenly become a threat to our democracy, sets off a smoke bomb and screams, “Fire!”
Or, as the secretary himself put it, “Essentially we’re at the point where the system is very overheated.” Oh really? Let’s go to the numbers.
Back in July, GOP state Chairman Charlie Webster showed up at Summers’ office with what Webster called the “tip of the iceberg”: a list of 206 students with out-of-state addresses on file with the University of Maine System who registered to vote in Maine on Election Day last November.
Fumed Webster at the time, “I believe the end result could be legal action — now that the fraud has been detected.”
Summers said his investigation showed that of those 206 names, two were duplicates and 77 were registered to vote only in Maine — leaving 127 to be “fully investigated.”
“Upon further research by my office, our information indicated that five students voted in both Maine and another state in the same year,” Summers said. “However, they did not vote in both places for the same election.”
“Technically, it’s not a violation of the law,” Summers later conceded. But, he quickly added, “I’m not sure exactly how patriotic it is.”