Earlier this year when Maine’s Secretary of State Matt Dunlap agreed to join President Trump’s national voter fraud commission — the so-called Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity — many Mainers and progressives around the country were openly concerned that Dunlap, a Democrat, would offer a bipartisan veneer to a biased commission that would ultimately advocate to roll back existing voter protections in the name of keeping the nation safe from the (essentially non-existent) specter of voter fraud.

Boy, did we underestimate Mr. Dunlap.

Our intrepid SoS has used his national platform on the commission to articulately and forcefully call out the Trump administration and its allies for flatly misstating facts in an attempt to present a threat to our electoral system that simply does not exist.

When the vice-chairman of the commission, Kansas Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach, made the claim in an editorial on Breitbart News that as many as 5,000 New Hampshire voters committed voter fraud (enough to swing the election from the Republican to the Democrat in the US Senate race last year) because those individuals used out of state ID to register and then did not subsequently obtain New Hampshire identification, Secretary Dunlap swung into action.

“Making this equation that somehow people not updating their driver’s license is an indicator of voter fraud would be almost as absurd as saying that if you have cash in your wallet, that that’s proof that you robbed a bank.” Dunlap said at a meeting of the commission this week in New Hampshire. “I think it’s a reckless statement to make.”

Dunlap pointed out, accurately, that New Hampshire law, much like Maine law, does not require voters to present state ID in order to vote, but simply that they must indicate that they are domiciled (are currently living and sleeping) within the state at the time of their registration and voting.

Unsurprisingly, most of the 5,000 voters were out-of-state students going to college in New Hampshire who are legally entitled to vote in the state.

Dunlap, whose current run as Secretary of State in Maine began in 2013, has had a lot of practice in clarifying these kind of facts, since Kobach was employing the same sort of misleading rhetoric that has been employed by conservatives in Maine for years.

Dunlap’s immediate successor, Charlie Webster, teamed up with Maine Republican Party head Charlie Webster in 2011 to launch a wide-ranging voter fraud investigation punctuated by outrageous claims that were later proven to be completely false. In reviewing elections going back more than a decade they were unable to find a single case of voter fraud to prosecute.

This issue arose in the wake of both the 2015 and 2016 elections, as local and state Republicans sought to limit ballot access to Maine college students, who vote overwhelmingly Democratic. Last year, when anonymous fliers were dropped at Bates College attempting to discourage student voting on the eve of the election, Dunlap was the loudest and clearest voices in the state clarifying the reality of the law and ensuring that every eligible voter was aware of their rights.

While Trump’s voter fraud commission continues it dubious work, it now does so on notice from one of Maine’s own. And Maine and the nation are better off for it.

The preceding originally appeared on mainebeacon.com, a website and podcast created by progressive group the Maine People’s Alliance.


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