Charlie Webster, Maine GOP Chair: Canadians May Cross U.S. Border And Vote Illegally
WASHINGTON -- Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster has been coming under fire in recent days for his allegation that more than 200 college students in Maine are committing voter fraud.
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Webster argued he is simply trying to draw attention to "loosey goosey liberal" voting laws in Maine that make it possible for undocumented immigrants to cross into the country and influence the outcome of U.S. elections.
"Do we want people who live in a motel deciding who we send to the state legislature when they never vote again in Maine?" he asked. "Do we want people who are illegal aliens -- illegal Americans -- from Canada or another state? ... Do we want them influencing our elections?"
Amy Fried, a professor of political science at the University of Maine, said there is no evidence of undocumented immigrants voting in Maine elections.
Claims of voter fraud are not new, even though the Department of Justice has found no credible evidence to suggest widespread voting by undocumented immigrants in the nation.
As The New York Times reported in 2007, "Five years after the Bush administration began a crackdown on voter fraud, the Justice Department has turned up virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections, according to court records and interviews."
Webster has argued that more than 200 out-of-state students attending the University of Maine are committing voter fraud by voting in the district where they are going to school.
According to Maine state law, in order to register to vote, a person must be a citizen of the United States, a resident of the municipality in which he or she wants to vote, at least 17 years old to register and 18 years old to vote.
But Webster believes that in Maine, allowing out-of-state students to register to vote in their college towns creates a "separate class of people."
"We don't have a law in Maine to establish a separate class of people," he told HuffPost. "We don't just set up a law that students get things that other people can't."
"They claim another state as where they live, that I am a resident here [home state] for purpose of the census," he continued. "But for some reason, without any other responsibility, they can come in and vote."
He told The Huffington Post that current law "disenfranchises those of us who are remaining once these people [college students] leave."
Webster's claim about voter fraud has been questioned by both conservatives and liberals.
When discussing his allegation of voter fraud on the Maine morning radio program "WGAN Morning News with Ken and Mike" on Friday morning, Webster was chided by the two hosts.
"The Supreme Court has said, that if you're a student and you're living in a dormitory, you can be a resident of the town in which you are in a dormitory. That is the law," said co-host Ken Altshuler, the show's liberal half.
"Charlie I'm going to offer you a piece of advice," said the other host Mike Violette, the shows conservative figure. "Stop talking about this. Just stop talking about it."
Webster has also drawn criticism from a young conservative who helped register voters that Webster alleges committed fraud.
In a blog post, Kevin Price, a Republican college student who helped several of the people register on Webster's list, criticized the chairman.
"This effort to restrict same-day registration was not in response to voter fraud," he said. "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."