It was a long day, voters lined up, ballots came in; counting got underway and the state made history by being one of three to pass a resolution to legalize same-sex marriage with their popular votes.
And while all this civic hustle, bustle and history-making was going on, “dozens of black people” were making their way through small, rural towns of the state, upsetting the natural order of the ballot box with their fraudulent votes. Or so says outgoing GOP chairman, Charlie Webster.
This somewhat stunning assertion was reported by Robert Long at the Bangor Daily News, after Webster made his claims in an interview with Don Carrigan at WCSH-TV in Portland.
“In some parts of the state, there were dozens of black people who came in to vote,” Webster said. “Nobody in town knew them.”
“One of the reasons people think there’s a problem is that they don’t know these people when they come in to vote,” he said. “Several pockets in the state had unusually high numbers of new voters, and the selectmen and town clerks did not know who they are.”
See video for the entire interview:
When Carrigan pressed Webster to name the towns, the Maine Republican Party chairman could only specify that they were “small, rural towns.” But, despite the seemingly racial crassness of the assertion, Webster insists there’s nothing racial in his motives:
“It’s not about being black or Spanish or Chinese,” he said. “Every election I hear that hundreds of unfamiliar people come in to vote. It’s unfortunate that people will use the issue of being black. If you lived in a small town, you would know that if [an unfamiliar] black person or Chinese person comes to vote, it would seem odd.”
Perhaps it would in a state as small as Maine. And yet no towns have reported such an infusion of black voters (or Chinese ones, for that matter) and Webster himself has yet to name any. Or come up with any evidence of his claim.
Apparently the issue of voter fraud is one of Webster’s pet peeves, having “crusaded” against the illegal activity during the course of his term as leader of the Maine GOP. In June of 2011 he claimed 206 university students were behind voter fraud during the 2010 election, presenting his list of purported names with the declaration: “I am convinced that my research proves that [voter] fraud is a problem, and I’ve only found the tip of the iceberg.”
After an investigation by the Secretary of State, no student voter fraud was found.
But like Captain Ahab pursuing the elusive white whale, Webster is determined to make his suspicions stick this time. He intends to organize a postcard campaign – at the Maine Republican Party’s expense – to ferret out fraud. Cards will be sent to every registered voter in the state; if and when cards come back as undeliverable, his theory will be proved. So says Webster. The number of ways in which this unscientific method is absurd likely don’t need enumeration, but Maine People’s Alliance director, Mike Tipping, was compelled to comment:
“First it was union members, then it was college students, now it’s African Americans,” Tipping wrote. “Every one of the outlandish and offensive claims Chairman Webster has made in an attempt to restrict voting rights has proven to be completely untrue. I look forward to the day, coming very soon, when he is no longer given a public platform to launch his conspiracy theories.”
I have a feeling many people in Maine share his sentiments. For now, we’ll leave this story with the most colorful claim Webster shared during the Carrigan interview; one that will likely rev up a few engines:
“In my opinion they are … The difference is we [Republicans] represent regular people, how’s that? We represent working class people, people who drive a truck. We don’t represent the far left of Maine.”