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ACLU of Maine Says LePage Violated Voting Rights Act

AUGUSTA, Maine - The ACLU of Maine is calling for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Gov. Paul LePage for violating the Voting Rights Act.

Zach Heiden says the governor was apparently trying to intimidate college students when he warned students who vote that the state will check to make sure they take all steps required to establish residency.

"The federal Voting Rights Act prohibits threats, intimidation and coercion designed to make it less likely that people are going to vote," Heiden says. "Today's action by Governor LePage, we believe, violates the Voting Rights Act."

The governor's statement followed reports that someone had distributed fliers at Bates College purportedly citing the laws that allow students to vote. The fliers have been denounced by Secretary of State Matt Dunlap as misleading and an attempt to discourage college students from turning out on Election Day.

“College students who live in Maine have the right to vote in Maine, and they are not subject to different laws than anyone else," Dunlap says. "Many of these young people are voting for the first time in a presidential election. The governor should be encouraging that civic participation, not doing everything in his power to undermine it.”

In his press release, LePage said, “After the election, we will do everything we can that is allowed under state and federal law to verify college students who voted here are following Maine law, which is clearly displayed on the Secretary of State’s website."

Journalist Steve Mistler is Maine Public’s chief politics and government correspondent. He is based at the State House.