Politics

November 30, 2012

2 groups seek federal inquiry into Webster's comments

The ACLU of Maine and the Brennan Center for Justice request an investigation into the state Republican Party chairman's comments about black voters.

By Ann S. Kim akim@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

State Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster addresses the Republican Convention on May 6, 2012.

AP

He said voter caging applies to practices of government, rather than an individual with no authority over voter registration.

Bam said the postcard plan described by Webster isn't a clear-cut case of voter intimidation but there's a plausible argument that it is.

The issue would not be whether the postcard is threatening, he said, but whether the practice somehow interferes with a person's right to vote, especially in connection with race.

"Courts generally frown upon linking someone's race to suspiciousness," Bam said.

A Justice Department spokeswoman failed to answer questions about whether the department had received the request, whether it had been acted on, and whether it is the type of matter the department would pursue.

The request is the ACLU's second involving voting issues in little over a year.

In October 2011, the ACLU and the liberal think tank Demos asked the Justice Department to investigate Secretary of State Charles Summers for sending letters to more than 200 University of Maine students.

Summers' letter told students to get Maine driver's licenses, register their vehicles in Maine or relinquish their right to vote in the state.

Webster had provided Summers with a list of students who he said may have committed voter fraud.

The Justice Department apparently did not pursue that investigation.

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

akim@pressherald.com

Twitter: AnnKimPPH

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