Maine GOP Chair Accuses Past AGs of Ignoring Fraud
On Thursday, a coalition of groups held a press conference launching a People’s Veto of LD 1376, the bill that eliminates same-day voter registration in Maine and which they say will disenfranchise thousands of voters. (Full disclosure: I was there as a supporter and I should note that the organization I work for is deeply involved the veto effort. I’ve also written on the subject.)
After the press event, the role of rebuttal fell not to Governor LePage who had just signed the bill, the Republican legislative leaders who pushed it through the chambers in two close partisan votes, or Mane’s Secretary of State, who promoted the law over the objections of town clerks from across Maine. The man who stood up to defend the law was Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster.
Webster was outspoken during the legislative debate and garnered headlines for claiming that the law was meant to prevent Democrats from engaging in voter fraud.
Webster has provided zero evidence for his claims and no other defenders of the law have made those kind of arguments. As Bill Nemitz wrote during his great column on the subject shortly after the law passed the Senate, “Give the man credit — at least he's calling it like he (and only he) sees it.”
On Thursday, Webster doubled-down on his strange claims of voter fraud, saying specifically that Democrats had bused in supporters in order to win the District 17 seat in Bangor, held by Democratic Representative Sara Stevens.
Asked by Bangor Daily News reporter Kevin Miller why he was unable to provide any proof for this or his other claims, Webster alleged that it was due to Democratic Attorneys General who had ignored voter fraud for partisan reasons.
“It’s easy to explain,” said Webster. “We’ve had one-party government for thirty-five years, including some nice people, a nice Democratic Secretary of State, a nice Attorney General who has been a Democrat. Frankly, if your party thinks they can benefit from this, why would the Attorney General that’s in that party, that gets elected by the legislature, why would he challenge anything?”
Here’s a video clip of the exchange:
The Maine Democratic Party responded with this statement from Chairman Ben Grant:
“This is ridiculous. The Republicans are making a mockery of our political system. First it was the Maine Democratic Party busing people in to 'steal elections.' Now he says it's us and every attorney general and secretary of state in the past thirty years. What next? Is he going to claim that aliens are in on it too?”
That seems like the appropriate level of seriousness with which to respond to this kind of conspiracy theory.
If election fraud had ever occurred on the vast scale Webster claims, one would think he would at least be able to point to a complaint, or a named witness, or some scrap of evidence, somewhere. The fact that he can’t, and his own prominent role in defending the change to the law, points toward other more partisan reasons behind the repeal of same-day registration.