All the Rage: LePage Welcomes Newly Elected Legislators, Questions Integrity of Election System
Thursday, December 08, 2016 11:11 AM
Last week, newly elected state lawmakers received a special form letter in the mail from Gov. Paul LePage begrudgingly summoning them to Augusta for their swearing-in ceremony and questioning the legitimacy of their elections.
“I am issuing this summons and signing this election certificate despite the fact that I maintain strong concerns regarding the integrity of Maine’s ballot and accuracy of Maine’s election results and I cannot attest to the accuracy of the tabulation certified by the Secretary of State,” wrote the governor to all members of the 128th Legislature, including the lawmakers who ran unopposed.
On Tuesday, the governor repeated his unsubstantiated allegation on Bangor radio station WVOM that he does “not believe that the election was accurate.” In the weeks leading up to the election when it looked like Hillary Clinton would win in November, the governor often repeated then-Republican candidate Donald Trump’s assertions that the election would be “rigged” against him. The governor told WVOM in October, with absolutely no evidence, that he didn’t believe that the elections in Maine or in the United States are “legitimate” because there are many counties where there are more votes cast than citizens. The governor argued that because Maine doesn’t require a photo ID to vote, “people from the cemetery” and unauthorized immigrants would be voting. After the election, Trump alleged, with no evidence, that “millions” of people voted illegally in the recent election, which gave Clinton the popular vote.
The website Politifact traced allegations that 3 million undocumented immigrants voted illegally to right-wing conspiracy radio host Alex Jones and tweets from the former finance director for the Alabama Republican Party. It declared the report “false” because the originator refused to provide any data backing up the assertions.
In a response to the governor’s ubstantiated allegations, Secretary of State Matt Dunap said “the integrity of Maine’s elections is not in question” and that if the governor has evidence of fraud he should bring it forward so that there can be an investigation.
Dunlap pointed out that in order to register to vote in Maine, all voters must by U.S. citizens and present valid identification and proof of residency. Voters must also write down towns where they have voted previously, which is entered into the Central Voter Registration system to eliminate the possibility for multiple registrations. Dunlap noted that if voters falsify any information on their registration cards they can be prosecuted.
The secretary of state also pointed out that former Republican Secretary of State Charlie Summers, a voter ID proponent, led an investigation into possible voter fraud perpetrated by college student and non-citizens and found none. In a 2012 report, the bipartisan Elections Commission determined that the “state enjoys a credible, well-administered elections system” and recommended against adopting a voter ID law because, in part, it would likely restrict the rights of many citizens to vote.
The citizens of Maine can be fully confident that their votes are counted accurately and the results reflect the will of the voters. Our town and city clerks, as well as our Elections staff at the Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions, are deeply committed to conducting our elections in a secure and thorough manner, in strict accordance with the laws of the State of Maine. We have the utmost confidence in their work and the election results, and so should Maine voters.
Rep. Matt Moonen (D-Portland) was more succinct in his response to the governor’s welcome letter. “This is so embarrassing,” wrote Moonen on Facebook. “And nobody gives a shit what you can attest to.”