Saturday, March 8, 2014
The Maine Democratic Party is accusing Republican Secretary of State and U.S. Senate nominee Charlie Summers of voter suppression because his office is running short of voter registration cards.
Party officials discovered the shortage when they went to the Secretary of State’s Office in the past week to ask for large numbers of the forms to use at voter registration drives, such as at fairs and festivals.
The office limited the numbers given out because it is phasing out the old form and running short on its supply. A new, slightly revised form will be printed within the next few weeks, according to a spokeswoman for the Secretary of State’s Office.
Democrats sent out a news release criticizing Summers on Monday and then complained about voter supression in a fundraising letter sent to supporters today. “Please give $50, $100, $250, $500 or whatever you can today to … send Charlie Summers packing,” it said.
Summers, who was elected by the Republican-led Legislature, responded today with a news release reminding voters that they can register to vote at their town office, local Bureau of Motor Vehicles office or Department of Health and Human Services offices. The release also said voters also can download the forms online at: http://www.eac.gov/assets/1/Documents.
Any requests for large batches of forms for registration drives will be filled as soon as possible, according to the release.
Megan Sanborn, Summers’ spokeswoman, said election officials decided the forms needed some minor updates, including clearer directions about providing past addresses. She also said the shortage should last only a few weeks and should not disrupt summer-time voter registration efforts.
Democrats, however, say they smell something fishy.
Summers supported last year’s failed effort to restrict same-day voter registration. He also investigated the Republican Party’s claims that college students and other were committing election fraud. Democrats said those efforts were attempts at voter suppression, and the cards may be more of the same.
“Either Summers is once again trying to limit Mainers access to the ballot or we have to seriously question his ability to manage the Secretary of State's office. We should never run out of voter registration cards in the middle of an election season," Maine Democratic Party Chair Ben Grant said in Monday's release.
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John Richardson joined the Press Herald in 1990 after working as a reporter in New Jersey. He has covered a variety of beats, including marine issues, the environment and health care. He is now covering politics and focusing on Maine's U.S. Senate race.
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Colin Woodard has covered politics and elections for more than two decades, from Bosnia and Bucharest to Washington, D.C., Augusta, and Portland City Hall. He has written for a wide range of national and international publications and is the author of four books, including "American Nations," a history of North America's regional cultures. He joined the Portland Press Herald at the end of April and covers political finance and lobbying, among other things.
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Susan Cover has covered Maine politics for 10 years and worked in Kansas, Ohio and Rhode Island as a reporter. This year, she is focusing on covering the same-sex marriage debate for MaineToday Media.
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Michael Shepherd joined MaineToday Media in May 2012 after graduating from the University of Maine in Orono, where he edited The Maine Campus, the student newspaper there. Until November he'll be writing the Truth Test, a recurring feature analyzing political statements and advertising.
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