Maine Gov. Accused of Trying to Discourage Student Voters

ACLU wants LePage investigated for voter intimidation
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 8, 2016 1:00 AM CST
Maine Gov. Accused of Voter Intimidation
In this Jan. 8, 2016, file photo, Gov. Paul LePage speaks at a news conference in Augusta, Maine.   (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

Maine Gov. Paul LePage should be encouraging first-time voters in his state, not trying to scare them off, says the ACLU, which wants the Republican to be investigated for alleged voter intimidation. When LePage was asked Monday about fliers that appeared on a college campus over the weekend falsely claiming that out-of-state students registering to vote would have to immediately pay hundreds of dollars for things like vehicle registration, he echoed the fliers' claims by warning about voter fraud and stressing that new residents must "follow all laws that regulate voting, motor vehicles, and taxes," the Washington Post reports. Maine has same-day voter registration, and an estimated 16,500 students from out of state.

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills said it was "shameful" to suggest that there would be financial consequences for registering to vote, which does not automatically trigger the likes of vehicle excise taxes, the Portland Press Herald reports. "The governor's statement seems designed to make college students afraid to vote," says Zachary Heiden, legal director at the ACLU of Maine. "College students who live in Maine have the right to vote in Maine, and they are not subject to different laws than anyone else." The executive director of the Maine GOP joined Democrats in condemning the fliers, saying the party has "worked incredibly hard to grow our support on campuses" and is also hurt by attempts to discourage voting. (More Election 2016 stories.)

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