AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- In the wake of flyers distributed at Bates College in Lewiston Sunday, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap is reminding college students and others in Maine that their right to vote is not hindered by establishing residency in Maine.
"Every American citizen has the right to vote. Establishing residency for the purpose of voting carries with it no association to paying fees or taxes -- you don’t pay for a right,” said Dunlap.
The process of establishing residency in Maine, including vehicle registration and getting a new driver's license, is separate from the elections process.
The distributed flyers stated that students who vote in Maine must pay hundreds of dollars to switch their vehicle registrations and licenses in order to vote. These flyers seek to dissuade citizens from voting out of a fear of legal and financial repercussions, according to Dunlap.
“It says a great deal that these flyers have been distributed with no attribution as to who paid for them or who is responsible for their content -- which is illegal,” he said. “Attempting to prevent American citizens from participating in their democratic process of self-governance through intimidation and fear is shameful, and it should be treasonable.”
Dunlap says Governor Paul LePage’s statement ignores the fact that the public policies around driver’s licenses, vehicle registrations and taxes are not related to anyone exercising their right to vote, and pose no barrier to people wishing to vote.
“Sadly, his statements only inflame an atmosphere of doubt and fear among the voters. I think it speaks loudly to how powerful the individual right to vote is when there are those who would keep citizens from wielding it,” said Dunlap.
Those who establish residency in Maine are expected to obtain a Maine driver’s license and do other public business as a Maine resident, within the deadlines prescribed in law. However, whether an individual obtains a Maine driver’s license or not has no impact on their ability to exercise their right to vote.
For more information about declaring residency to vote in the State of Maine, visit the Maine Department of the Secretary of State website.