LePage Says He’ll Investigate Maine College Students’ Votes For Fraud

**OTK**In this Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011 photo, Gov. Paul LePage reacts during a news conference at the State House in Augusta, Maine..  (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach)
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Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) said Monday he plans to investigate college students voting in his state to ensure they follow the law.

“Casting ballots in two different states is voter fraud, which is why Maine law requires anyone voting here to establish residency here,” the governor’s statement said. “We welcome college students establishing residency in our great state, as long as they follow all laws that regulate voting, motor vehicles and taxes. We cannot tolerate voter fraud in our state.”

“After the election, we will do everything we can that is allowed under state and federal law to verify college students who voted here are following Maine law, which is clearly displayed on the Secretary of State’s website,” it concluded, after listing residency requirements for voters.

LePage’s announcement came after Bates College officials said they found orange fliers around campus that they said were part of a “deliberate attempt at voter suppression,” according to a report from the Associated Press.

The fliers said students would need a Maine driver’s license to vote. In fact, enrolled students can vote without a state ID, according to Maine’s Democratic Secretary of State Matt Dunlap.

Maine state law simply requires proof of residence, which can be satisfied for first-time voters registered in the state with documents including paychecks or utility bills.

“The governor’s statement seems designed to make college students afraid to vote,” said Zachary Heiden, the ACLU’s legal director in the state, according to the Portland Press Herald. “College students who live in Maine have the right to vote in Maine, and they are not subject to different laws than anyone else. Many of these young people are voting for the first time in a presidential election. The governor should be encouraging that civic participation, not doing everything in his power to undermine it.”

A statement from the Androscoggin County GOP, where Bates is located, called the fliers a “false flag,” according to the Press Herald.

“Having to rely on false-flag operations days before an election shows that the Democrats are desperate because Mainers are not on board with their agenda,” the statement read.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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