A lawmaker has introduced a bill in the Maine House of Representatives that would take away voting rights for college students from out-of-state.
The legislature's Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee heard testimony on the bill Wednesday and will hold a vote on February 7.
The sponsor of the bill, Representative Gary Knight, R-Livermore Falls, said that sometimes college students commit voter fraud by voting both at college and at home, according to a report in the Kennebec Journal. Other supporters of the bill say that students living in dormitories in Maine colleges just aren't residents.
Tom Charpentier '10 made the trip to Augusta to testify against the bill. In his testimony, he said that while students do not necessarily pay taxes or live in the state all year, they do contribute to local economies, are subject to state laws, and benefit from state and municipal services.
Some individuals have taken aim specifically at Bowdoin students. One post on a Waterville newspaper's message board questioned whether Bowdoin students were sufficiently knowledgeable to vote in local elections.
However, officials said that there had been no recent reports of voter fraud in Brunswick.
Fran Smith, town clerk for Brunswick, said while allegations of voter fraud are dealt with by the secretary of state, such complaints would ultimately make their way to her.
"If there was a case out there, we would be the ones who would have to provide the information and that has not happened," she said.
"In my six years here, there has not been any sort of case that was brought...that [the secretary of state] came back to me to provide information for," she said.
In an e-mail to the Orient, Don Cookson, communications director at the Department of the Secretary of State, confirmed that in the last five years there have been no cases of voter fraud in the entire state.