8.31.2011

ME GOP Chairman wrong about students' rights


Maine GOP Chairman Charlie Webster was quoted in a Portland Press Herald article saying:
“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."
He's correct about needing to establish residency. That is one of three requirements to vote - the other two being citizenship and age. However registering your car is one of several ways to establish residency and paying taxes has nothing to do with it.

Even if it did, it's laughable to suggest that out of state student's don't pay taxes. When I attended university in Farmington, I went to Walmart several times a month to buy microwaveable mac'n'cheese, white board markers and numerous other necessities and amenities - all the while proudly paying sales tax to the great state of Maine. The same would have been true if I had attended a school in another state. 

My future wife was an out-of-state student too, hailing from our kindred pine tree state of Vermont. When she took jobs on campus or around town, she paid income taxes to the state of Maine.

Voter fraud has a long and dark history in the United States, but not one that GOP leaders in Maine would lead you to believe. Cases of people trying to double their votes by voting in more than one community or pretending to be more than one person are few and far between. In fact, I'm being generous, I have yet to come across a single case much less several to warrant concern. Rather voter fraud in our country has been predominantly pursued by people in power trying to prevent others from voting despite their rights as citizens. More specifically, federal soldiers and police have been employed to block access to polls by minority groups, particularly in the deep south.

Writing on his blog, Liberal Curmudgeon the suppression of black voters, historian and author Stephen Budiansky writes:
The fondly cherished bogeyman of today's Republicans of "voter fraud" in the form of individuals impersonating others at the polls has essentially zero basis in history or reality: On the contrary, the real history of voter fraud is the use of legal or quasi-legal mechanisms to intimidate, restrict, and suppress legitimate voting by those who threatened the conservative elite's lock on power.
The fact of the matter is Universities are predominantly populated by liberal students in Maine. Same-day registered voters also tend to vote democratic. With little evidence of voter fraud due to same day registrations or allowing students to vote where they go to college, and with such a huge political incentive to discourage college students and same-day voters to vote - I question Webster's motives. 

2 Intelligent Comment(s):

Michael said...

I think you're exactly right about the motivations around college student voters - conservatives expect they will vote the other way, and the left knows they are supporters, so they try to encourage it.

Each vote counts so little, it's rather unlikely anyone would vote in multiple elections and have an impact.

Jeremy Corbally-Hammond said...

It's the motivation itself I find particularly frustrating. Call me naive, but I rather act under the assumption that people on opposite sides of debates ultimately have positive motivations and are just wrong about their reasoning. But in this case, it couldn't be more obvious that he's incorrect about voter fraud, and the Maine GOP Chairman is not beyond reason and evidence. It's apparent he's ignoring them for political purposes or through some twisted sense of provincialism.

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