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Maine Election Officials Deny Trump 'Rigged Election' Allegations

Evan Vucci
The Associated Press
Donald Trump speaks to a rally in Bangor, ME on October 15th, 2016

Election officials across the country are pushing back against Donald Trump’s assertions that the presidential election may be rigged. Maine’s top election official says elections in Maine have too many safeguards to make that possible.

Over the past few weeks, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has repeatedly said he’s concerned about the possibility of voter fraud in the presidential election. He repeated the assertion over the weekend in Bangor.

“The election is being rigged,” said Trump on Saturday.

But Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, a Democrat, agrees with his Republican counterparts in other states like Iowa and Georgia who say that it would be incredibly difficult to rig an election. That’s because most states, including Maine, use paper ballots that are cast by individuals who have to identify themselves at their polling place and have their names checked off on the registration list. Dunlap says there is a very small potential that someone might vote twice in different towns, but he has not seen that happen.

“Sometimes concerns that there are individuals who may be registered in multiple places who might vote twice, we don’t find that to be the case,” says Dunlap. “We have been doing this now for about ten years.”

And Dunlap says local officials take their responsibility of safeguarding the process very seriously. He says local city and town clerks recruit local citizens to oversee the process. After ballots are cast, they are only counted after the polls are closed when representatives of both major parties are present to participate in the counting by hand or to read the tallies on the voting machines. Dunlap says no voting in Maine is internet-based, so it can’t be hacked to change votes. He says sometimes local election staff go beyond the call of duty. For example, in Bangor a few years ago a fire alarm went off at the polling place located in Bangor High school.

“They refused to leave. The police couldn’t make them leave,” says Dunlap. “The police actually stayed with them in case anything truly went wrong, and there was actually a fire. They would not leave what could have been a burning building. That’s the devotion our local election officials have to this process.”

Dunlap agrees with his counterparts across the country that for Trump’s allegations to be true it would require a massive conspiracy involving tens of thousands of poll workers from both parties to change the results of the votes cast by millions of Americans.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.