To the Editor:
The legislative session just closed passed LD 1376 with Republican votes alone. This bill ended “same-day registration.” That is, it required voters to register no later than the previous Thursday and not on the same day that elections are held. Maine’s Secretary of State Charles Summers supported the legislation because he felt a flood of new registration on Election Day overburdens the town clerks.
The Republican State Committee Chairman, Charles Webster, backed LD 1376 on different grounds. He believes that “flooding” the polling place on Election Day makes it impossible for the town clerks to properly check the brand-new voters. It opens the door to fraudulent practices.
Democrats support same-day registration in the legislature and the Maine Usual Suspects Alliance, along with other progressive groups, have started a petition drive to put a People’s Veto of LD 1376 on the ballot. The progressives (people formerly known as “liberals”) accuse Republicans of trying to “disenfranchise” voters—the old, the young, the handicapped and students (especially students). Some tie this in with a national GOP disenfranchisement scheme.
The first part of this argument is a little weak, because there is nothing in the law to prevent any residents of the state from enfranchising themselves by registering on the Thursday before Election Day—or any one of more than 250 weekdays in the year. In fact, they have not even attempted to make an argument that is more difficult for the young, the elderly or the handicapped to register of Thursday than on Tuesday.
The argument that there is a GOP “disenfranchisement” plot is flimsier still since 41 states insist on registration prior to Election Day, and they are not all Republican. Worse, Massachusetts and New York, traditionally Democratic states, set even longer deadlines of 20 and 30 days before the election to register.
Since the disenfranchisement argument is almost comically weak, the People’s Veto enthusiasts make no attempt develop the argument but repeat “disenfranchisement” over and over. Constant repetition always fetches some suckers. That is Rule No. 1 for professional propagandists and advertisers.
There are other arguments that have more heft than mere repetition. One argument is oddly “conservative,” as in same-day voting has been a Maine tradition for over 30 years. Start from this and the argument runs that there have been only two fraud cases in 40 years. In other words, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”
There is an obvious defect in this argument. Think about it. Today millions of Americans will be locking their cars and houses, even though they have never suffered a break-in or a burglary.
To counter this response, it is enough to insist that precautions are not necessary in the State of Maine, where Democrats never cheat. Ever. It’s up to Charlie Webster, speaking for the Republicans, to show that there’s a problem. So Charlie sets to work with his secretary, and in a couple of weeks he compiles of a list of 206 students who are registered to vote in Maine and also in towns in other states. Some people find it strange that a student would claim to be a resident of Maine while paying out-of-state tuition.
So the progressives and the Democratic leadership dismiss Charlie’s research. It doesn’t really prove anything. He’s a fear-monger and Republican attack dog. They ignored Charlie’s repeated statement at this press conference that he had turned his research over to the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, asking them to investigate.
Then Secretary of State Summers held a press conference in which he revealed evidence of fraud and spoke of an on-going investigation involving federal authorities and Maine’s Attorney General.
This is what the progressives and Democrats asked for: proof. And it looks like they will get it—good and hard.
Prof. John Frary
Professor John Frary of Farmington, Maine is a former US Congress candidate and retired history professor, a Board Member of Maine Taxpayers United and an associate editor of the International Military Encyclopedia, and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.