Maine GOP Chair: Students Should Pay Taxes If They Want To Vote

The Chairman of Maine’s Republican party has doubled down on his crusade against the apparently widespread problem of voter fraud-committing college students, declaring this week that if students want to vote they should be paying taxes.

“I get tired of talking about this because the law is clear,” Charles Webster said. “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.”Back in July, Webster made a list of 200 college students whom he claimed are committing voter fraud because they pay out-of-state tuition rates but are registered to vote in the state.

According to Eric Russell of the Bangor Daily News, in order in vote in Maine someone has to be a U.S. citizen, be 17 years old to register and 18 to vote, and establish and maintain a residency in the municipality where they would register. In order to establish residency, according to the Daily News:

Students have the right to register in the municipality where they attend school as long as they have established residency. They are then subject to the same residency requirements but cannot be asked to meet additional requirements.

Determining established residency is left to municipal clerks and they can consider the following factors in determining established residency: a direct statement or oath, a motor vehicle registration, an income tax return, a piece of mail listing a current address or any other objective facts.

None of these is required, however.

As TPM wrote in July, the University of Maine only allowed students who had previously lived in the state to get the discounted tuition rate — and Webster didn’t have any evidence that the named students voted in more than one state or didn’t establish residency. When asked about the specifics, Webster said at the time: “I only dealt with what was the easiest thing to find.”

Maine’s Secretary of State said he would investigate the allegations.

“We’ll let this play out,” Webster said. “I’m willing to take the criticism I’m getting. What I find bizarre is that anyone would think I would bring up something that wasn’t a problem.”

“He doesn’t want students to vote in Maine. Everything else he’s said has been a smoke screen,” Ben Grant, chair of the Maine Democratic Party, told the Daily News. “The key issue is people voting in more than one place and that hasn’t happened.”

Get the day’s best political analysis, news and reporting from the TPM team delivered to your inbox every day with DayBreaker. Sign up here, it takes just a few seconds.