PORTLAND – Secretary of State Charlie Summers spent Thursday promoting the results of his investigation into allegations of voter fraud, on the radio and in a luncheon speech hosted by the Maine Heritage Policy Center in Portland.

Summers stuck largely to his themes from earlier in the week: that Maine’s election system is vulnerable to fraud and should have an overhaul.

On Wednesday, Summers announced that his investigation into potential illegal voting by college students and noncitizens showed that one person had illegally registered and voted, on Election Day in 2002. Summers’ office scrutinized about 500 voters in the process.

“We have a very small sample, but that sample was limited by things like we had to have probable cause to go into someone’s voter record,” Summers told WRKO radio’s Howie Carr.

Summers told Carr and the luncheon audience that he was particularly disturbed to find an 84 percent error rate in the registrations that were reviewed, with 79 percent of those errors committed on Election Day.

An audience member asked how changing Maine’s law to prohibit Mainers from registering to vote within two business days of an election would help to reduce the human error rate.

“Many of the errors that were made are on the registration cards themselves, not being completely filled out,” Summers said. “A lot of the mistakes that are being made are when someone comes up and gives their name and the clerk checks the wrong name.”

Summers supports the law passed in June to limit when Mainers can register and vote by absentee ballot. The law prompted a people’s veto effort that put the elimination of same-day registration on the Nov. 8 ballot.

“It sounds like I’m beating up on the clerks. I am really not,” Summers said. “They do a tremendous job under tremendous pressure. By simply adding two business days so they can have the most up-to-date voter lists, to make sure they are not operating under the gun, and to try to conduct an election in the most secure and efficient manner, I think that’s a reasonable step.”

Summers expressed disappointment with the “cavalier attitude” that some people have about the election process.

He said he served in Iraq when the country’s first free elections were held and described how people waited in line for days to vote, while terrorists employed suicide bombers.

“And then you come back and you look at some attitudes that say it’s not a big deal, you can vote here or you can vote there,” he said. “Wouldn’t you really want to make sure that this system is as secure and the integrity is as great as possible?”

The Protect Maine Votes coalition is leading the campaign to preserve same-day voter registration, which has been law in Maine for 38 years. On Thursday, the group provided MaineToday Media with partial results from a poll that it commissioned.

The coalition shared the results of two questions in a poll by Boston-based Kiley and Co., which surveyed 400 likely Maine voters Aug. 16-18.

Fifty-six percent of respondents said they would vote “to reject the new law that requires new voters to register to vote at least two business days prior to an election.” About 43 percent said they would not vote to reject the new law.

Asked if Maine’s law allowing same-day registration has worked well, 72 percent said it has. About 21 percent said it has not worked well and 7 percent said they don’t know. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 5 percentage points.

MaineToday Media State House Writer Rebekah Metzler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at: [email protected]