Allegations of voter intimidation on a Maine college campus have students concerned, and state officials at odds.
Students at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine report discovering 30 fliers in dining halls and dorms over the weekend that are labeled "legal advisory."
The fliers read: "If you chose to register and vote in Lewiston, you MUST: Pay to change your driver's license to Lewiston, Maine within 30 days, Pay to Re-Register any vehicle you have in Lewiston. This includes a Maine state vehicle inspection requirement. Usually hundreds of dollars in total."
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Bates students assumed that it was an effort to suppress voters with liberal leanings.
"Everyone is kind of more liberal here, so with the area being more conservative, I think they're just worried about swaying the vote," said Bates student Ryan Brudny.
"Anything designed to discourage them is part of a long history of voter intimidation, and we want no part of it," said Bates College President Clayton Spencer.
Maine's Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said students should ignore these flyers.
"Trying to influence someone not to vote is not only shameful, it should be treasonous," Dunlap said.
He said the fundamental right to vote is not tied to driver's license requirements or vehicle registration.
"They don't trigger each other," said Dunlap, "so there's no real connectivity. You have a privilege to drive a motor vehicle. But you have an absolute right to vote.”
But the state's top election official seems to be at odds with Maine Governor Paul LePage, who issued a statement Monday, urging college students to establish residency if they chose to vote in Maine.
"Democrats for decades have encouraged college students from out of state to vote in Maine, even though there is no way to determine whether these college students also voted in their home states," said LePage. "Casting ballots in two different states is voter fraud, which is why Maine law requires anyone voting here to establish residency here. 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."
LePage went on to say that after the election, his administration will verify college students voting in Maine are following the laws.
The ACLU of Maine called the Governor's statement a form of voter intimidation, and even called on the Department of Justice to investigate him.