The lone dissenting voice on the five-member Commission to Study the Conduct of Elections in Maine has warned state officials that Maine’s election system is vulnerable to fraudulent voting.
“I believe that the testimony and evidence presented reveal a clear and present danger to our voting process in Maine,” wrote former Bangor Mayor N. Laurence Willey in a memo to the Democratic co-chairs of the Veterans and Legal Affairs (VLA) Committee.
The commission voted 4-1 in February on their report, which stated, in part, that there is “little or no history of voter impersonation or identification fraud.”
That statement was welcome news to those who oppose laws designed to guard against illegal voting. However, as a mayor of one of Maine’s largest cities, Willey saw the problem of voter fraud first hand, and his experience on the commission only heightened his concern that Maine’s elections are being unduly influenced by illicit voting.
As the dissenting member of the commission, Willey issued separate statutory recommendations to state officials. His proposed policies include requiring voters to present valid identification to an election clerk – i.e. voter ID – as well as a new voter validation system similar to New Hampshire’s.
“Maine is out of trend with other states,” said Willey. “35 other states have adopted some form of voter identification process in order to safe guard elections.”
Voter ID laws are commonly objected to on the grounds that requiring voters to present an ID could discriminate against poor individuals who, for one reason or another, cannot afford a driver’s license or official ID. Many critics, using poverty as a proxy for race, argue additionally that voter ID laws discriminate against non-white individuals.
Willey said he recommended a simple solution for voters who cannot afford proper identification: let the state pay for it. He said less than 5 percent of Maine voters are without ID, meaning the cost of implementing voter ID in this manner would not break the State’s budget. He said similar proposals in other states such as Ohio and Oklahoma have been held by courts to remove concerns regarding potential discrimination.
In addition to blatantly fraudulent voting, Willey is also concerned with the comparatively innocuous problem of people who vote in Maine’s elections but are not domiciled in the state.
“Maine has no protections against double-voters – people who claim residency in Maine and vote here, but who also vote in other states’ elections,” Willey told The Maine Wire.
The solution Willey has proposed would validate all newly registered voters by checking their registration cards against the state drivers’ license database. All voters who do not have valid Maine addresses would be referred to the Attorney General for investigation.
“Secretary of State Summers was absolutely correct when he challenged new college student voting registrants, to a matchup of driver’s license changes, by those ‘new residents,’” said Willey.
“Such a system in Maine, like that in New Hampshire, would prevent the voting system from being affected by non-Maine residents, who are nothing more than interlopers using the Maine voting process to skew elections and referendum outcomes,” said Willey.
Despite having had Willey’s recommendations since February, the Democrat-controlled VLA committee appears to be ignoring the threat of illegal voting he has brought to its attention.
“Any attempt to dilute the votes of Maine citizens by non-residents is a fraud on our system,” said Willey.
“Every election cycle until these problems are resolved, we’re going to be in a situation where people who have no right to vote are voting in Maine.”