Maine GOP Gov. LePage claims non-citizens could have voted

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AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Republican Gov. Paul LePage is telling state legislators he'll rubber-stamp their election certifications despite his concerns about the accuracy of the state's official results.

Democratic Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said the integrity of Maine's election isn't in question and he hasn't received complaints regarding the integrity of it. He said the office is "fully confident" the election results it certified are accurate and represent the will of voters.

LePage is questioning the results approving marijuana legalization, a minimum wage hike and an income surtax to fund schools. He has claimed voters didn't understand the specifics of the ballot questions.

The governor also has said the state will verify if college students voted lawfully, and he speculated recently that no ID requirement for voting means "people from the cemetery" would vote.

LePage provided no evidence to back up his claims. He recently wrote a letter to legislators in which he said he signed their election certifications despite his "strong concerns regarding the integrity of Maine's ballot."

"I cannot attest to the accuracy of the tabulation certified by the Secretary of State," LePage said.

LePage's office said the governor sent the letters to Republicans and Democrats.

Democratic lawmakers are criticizing the governor for casting doubt on the integrity of election results certified by the secretary of state. Those results are then signed off on by LePage.

Dunlap said Maine uses paper ballots and about half of municipalities hand-count votes. He said tabulating machines in the rest of the state aren't connected to any network that could make them vulnerable to tampering.

In a statement, LePage said Dunlap cannot "guarantee with 100 percent certainty" that noncitizens did not vote or that college students or others did not vote in more than one place. He also claimed "electronic voting machines" could be manipulated by outside vendors and said paper ballots can be "mishandled, miscounted or misplaced."

But Dunlap said the state doesn't use electronic voting machines. Instead, it uses ballot tabulators with password-protected optical scanners that read and tally the votes. He said that ballots are counted under a "very strict" chain of custody from the time they are printed to when they are sealed and that using paper ballots allows for hand-recounts.

A Maine voter needs to be a U.S. citizen and present valid ID and proof of residency. Voters can be prosecuted for providing false statements and must say if they were previously registered to vote.

Dunlap encouraged LePage or other parties to come forward if they have evidence of attempts at voter fraud.

LePage made the comments even as Republicans held onto U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin's congressional seat and narrow control of the state Senate and gained state House seats.

In 2011, a two-month investigation led by Dunlap's Republican predecessor, Charles Summers, found no instances of voter fraud after the head of the Maine GOP expressed doubts about more than 200 cases by nonresident state university students.

And in 2013, a state commission launched by Summers found that a voter ID law wouldn't provide additional security and would instead prevent qualified citizens, including the poor and senior citizens, from participating in elections.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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