I have been avoiding this topic for the past couple of weeks because it has received plenty of coverage, but given GOP Chairman Charlie Webster’s latest actions, it was time for a college student’s take on the matter. For the past four years I have been a registered Republican in a college town and as frustrating as it often can be to go up against the liberal leanings of the area, restricting voting access is wrong and will not change the outcome of elections.
I am from Maine and have voted since I was 18, and never once was it in my hometown. I follow the local politics of the area I reside in and am most informed about the issues of that area. While I am not one of the students Webster has decided to target, I still take issue with his accusations. I’d also be curious to know where LePage’s children voted during their time (paying in state tuition?) attending college in Florida. If we are heading down this road, why not look at Maine citizens voting in other states while attending school. Does this concern Webster? No, because to him they represent one less liberal voting in a Maine election.
I can understand the concerns of non-US citizens voting in Maine elections, this is wrong and illegal. However if you look at the documents provided by Webster, all it contains is a list with birth year and first letter of the first name as well as “home” town and state, there are no international locations listed. If someone knowingly allowed a non-citizen to vote, they should be prosecuted.
Reading through this list I could easily identify two friends of mine who are accused to have committed voter fraud. How do I know that they did not commit voter fraud? I helped them register to vote several weeks prior to the 2010 election and explained that they could only vote in Maine (which they already were well aware of), they also happen to both have registered as Republicans.
Yes, most on Webster’s list pay out of state tuition. Those on the list also live in Maine nine months of the year. The University of Maine’s standards for determining in state and out of state tuition are completely unrelated to election law. Why is Webster not looking into the voting habits of seasonal residents? The answer is simple, young people tend to be liberal, seasonal residents tend to be conservative. This has to be one of the most blatant and embarrassing attempts to control the outcomes of an election to favor one party in recent Maine history.
This effort to restrict same day registration was not in response to voter fraud, it was in response to the numbers of young (liberal) people voting in Maine. What will happen now is these voters will register three days in advance and still vote. In fact, they will probably come out in greater force than they would have before same day registration was prohibited. Adversity motivates young people and while the results it will yield may not align with my political views, I hope college students come out in record numbers in 2012. That is the difference between Charlie Webster and myself. I want to see Republicans elected, but because of their merit and ability to win in a fair race, with equal access for all of those legally allowed to vote. Charlie Webster wants to see Republicans elected, regardless of whether it alienates his party against the next generation of Maine’s leaders.
Until Webster presents substantive evidence to back his claim that “several” of those listed voted in multiple states, he is blowing hot air. Instead of attempting to provide coverage for what was a terrible piece of legislation and hinder the signature drive to place the issue on the ballot, he should focus on issues that will actually benefit Maine and help Republicans keep the majority. If Webster is really as hard pressed as it seems to come up with ways to get the Maine GOP some publicity, he could start with promoting the good legislation (it far outweighed the bad) that came out of the past session, not making a poor piece of legislation look worse.