GOP chief: Mystery black voters
The head of Maine’s Republican Party is claiming unknown groups of black people showed up in the state’s towns and cast ballots on Election Day – a claim the Democratic Party chair blasted as “racist.”
“In some parts of rural Maine, there were dozens, dozens of black people who came in and voted on Election Day,” Charlie Webster told Portland, Maine’s NBC affiliate on Wednesday. “Everybody has a right to vote, but nobody in town knows anyone who’s black. How did that happen? I don’t know. We’re going to find out.”
Webster was unable to provide specifics, but said there were five areas of the state where he said he had concerns. He said he was going to mail thank-you cards for voting to newly registered voters. If some weren’t able to be delivered, he would know there was fraud.
The Maine secretary of state’s office told POLITICO there was no evidence of Webster’s claims that they were aware of.
“We haven’t heard any complaints,” said Megan Sanborn, a spokesperson for the secretary.
“I’m not talking about 15 or 20. I’m talking hundreds,” Webster told the paper. “I’m not politically correct and maybe I shouldn’t have said these voters were black, but anyone who suggests I have a bias toward any race or group, frankly, that’s sleazy.”
The Maine GOP hasn’t responded to requests for further comment.
Maine is one of the whitest states in the country, with a black population of only 1.2 percent. Obama won the state by over 100,000 votes.
Maine Democratic Party Chair Ben Grant said the comments were “par for the course” for Webster. In 2011, he accused more than 200 college students in Maine of voter fraud.
“If he wants to name a name and name a town, I’m all ears,” Grant told POLITICO in a phone interview. “Until then, it’s just paranoid ramblings.”
Grant said Webster’s remarks were “racist,” adding shortly after: “I probably shouldn’t have used that word.” But Grant said Webster’s invocation of minority voters was telling.
“Why say it’s black people unless you’re trying to inject some fear?” Grant asked.
The NAACP had a similar reaction.
“Mr. Webster’s unsubstantiated and unverifiable allegations of voter fraud based upon race are offensive and insulting, not only to the member’s of Maine’s African-American community, but to all citizens of Maine,” Portland NAACP President Rachel Talbot Ross said in a statement. “They call into question not only the integrity of individual voters based solely upon race, but also the integrity of the election officials, wardens and clerks who work tirelessly to ensure that our elections are free and fair. Such allegation are little more than racial demagoguery and would be beneath notice if they were not from the party of Lincoln.”
The state’s NAACP chapters called on Republican leaders throughout the state to condemn Webster’s comments, and said they would “investigate any and all potential violations of the law by Mr. Webster and his party.”
“His statements reveal what voters have known through this past election cycle: that racism is at the heart of the voter suppression movement,” Talbot Ross said.