Maine's Governor Is Being Accused of Voter Intimidation

November 7th 2016

Kyle Jaeger

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) lectured college students on Monday about the risks of committing election fraud.


However, his statement is being described as an attempt to suppress the student vote, prompting civil rights advocates to request an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department, according to The Washington Post.

LePage, a supporter of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, whose controversial remarks frequently appear in national headlines, issued this statement the day before the election, emphasizing the importance of establishing residency for student voters:

"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. 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."

The line that caught the attention of civil and voting rights advocates, however, is this one:

"After the election, we will do everything we can that is allowed under state and federal law to verify college students who voted here are following Maine law, which is clearly displayed on the Secretary of State’s website."

The ACLU of Maine said the statement "seems designed to make college students afraid to vote" and called on the Justice Department to investigate "the intent of the governor’s comments." The organization added:

"College students who live in Maine have the right to vote in Maine, and they are not subject to different laws than anyone else. Many of these young people are voting for the first time in a presidential election. The governor should be encouraging that civic participation, not doing everything in his power to undermine it."

Why would college students be targets of voter intimidation?

people voting

Though young people between the ages of 18 and 24 have historically low turnout rates in elections, those who do show up at the ballot tend to vote Democratic. A 2015 Pew Research Poll found that 51 percent of Millennials lean left, compared to only 35 percent who lean right.

That makes college students a potential liability for Republican candidates, and it could potentially explain both LePage's statement as well as this flier spotted at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine over the weekend:

It's a fake "legal advisory" that was reportedly posted around campus. It falsely claimed that, before they can vote, students must pay fees that amount to "hundreds of dollars in total" to register their drivers license and vehicle in the city.

Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap (D) condemned the fliers as an example of voter suppression on Sunday, the Portland Press Herald reported.

"Voter registration is not affected by where you register your car," Dunlap said. "This flier is pure politics. They’re using it to try to scare college kids from voting."

ATTN: reached out to LePage's office for comment, but a representative was not immediately available. We will update this story when we hear back.