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GOP chairman Charlie Webster to investigate ‘black people’ voting as potential fraud

Posted Nov. 14, 2012, at 7:36 p.m.
Last modified Nov. 15, 2012, at 10:23 a.m.

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Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster. Photographed Sunday, May 6, 2012 at the Maine Republican Convention in Augusta, Maine.
Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster. Photographed Sunday, May 6, 2012 at the Maine Republican Convention in Augusta, Maine.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Outgoing Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster plans to investigate claims that “dozens of black people” who were unfamiliar to municipal officials voted Nov. 6 in rural Maine towns.

Webster, who will step down Dec. 1 after four years as Maine GOP chairman, first mentioned the questionable voter activity 16 minutes into a 21-minute interview Tuesday with Don Carrigan of WCSH-TV in Portland.

“In some parts of the state, there were dozens of black people who came in to vote,” Webster said. “Nobody in town knew them.”

When Carrigan pressed Webster to identify the towns, the Maine Republican Party chairman only specified that they were small rural towns.

In a phone interview Wednesday, Webster told the BDN that he plans to send “several thousand” postcards with a photo of the State House to the addresses of voters who registered on Election Day as a way to investigate potential voter fraud.

“They’ll go out in first-class mail,” he said. “I don’t expect people to respond to the question. The concept behind this is to see if they are returned. This is a reasonably inexpensive effort by me to settle the question” of whether people travel to Maine communities to vote fraudulently.

If cards come back as undeliverable, Webster believes it will prove his theory that people travel to Maine to vote fraudulently.

The Maine Republican Party paid for the postcards and postage, Webster said.

“One of the reasons people think there’s a problem is that they don’t know these people when they come in to vote,” he said. “Several pockets in the state had unusually high numbers of new voters, and the selectmen and town clerks did not know who they are.”

Webster bristled at the notion that his probe is racially motivated.

“It’s not about being black or Spanish or Chinese,” he said. “Every election I hear that hundreds of unfamiliar people come in to vote. It’s unfortunate that people will use the issue of being black. If you lived in a small town, you would know that if [an unfamiliar] black person or Chinese person comes to vote, it would seem odd.”

Maine People’s Alliance communications director Mike Tipping issued a statement Wednesday condemning Webster’s actions. “First it was union members, then it was college students, now it’s African Americans,” Tipping wrote. “Every one of the outlandish and offensive claims Chairman Webster has made in an attempt to restrict voting rights has proven to be completely untrue. I look forward to the day, coming very soon, when he is no longer given a public platform to launch his conspiracy theories.”

Webster has crusaded against alleged voter fraud throughout his tenure at the helm of the Maine Republican Party. In July 2011, he produced a list of 206 college students from out of state as grounds for a voter fraud investigation by the Maine secretary of state’s office. In September 2011, Secretary of State Charlie Summers reported that investigators turned up no fraud resulting from Webster’s list.

In June 2011, Webster also accused Democrats of stealing elections and busing people to the polls to sway outcomes. No charges resulted from that allegation.

Webster said he planned to send postcards to voters who registered on Election Day two years ago, but that the plan fizzled amid the euphoria over Republican victories in legislative and gubernatorial elections.

In the interview with Carrigan, Webster also labeled presumptive Maine Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, a socialist and said that Maine will have the “most liberal legislature in the country” when Democrats return to majority status in January.

He told Carrigan he believes Democrats “represent Portland” and that “Republicans will start winning elections when people who drive trucks start voting Republican.”

State Rep. Richard Cebra, a Republican from Naples who could not seek re-election because of term limits, has emailed Maine Republican Party state committee members to express his interest in succeeding Webster. State Rep. Beth O’Connor, R-Berwick, who lost her re-election bid this year, also has been mentioned as being interested in the position.

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