AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage has sent newly elected legislators to Augusta a form letter saying he “cannot attest to the accuracy” of Maine’s recent election results, but doesn’t cite any specific evidence of fraud, and no major voting problems were reported in the state.
The letter, which was posted on social media by Democratic lawmakers on Thursday, turned a mere formality into a political statement, with the Republican governor doubling down on past doubts about the integrity of Maine’s election system.
Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, a Democrat, said LePage is “continuing that widespread mythology of widespread voter fraud,” saying Maine saw only isolated cases of voting issues on Election Day, none of which amounted to fraud.
“I think the integrity of the election is absolutely not in question,” Dunlap said. “I’ve asserted that a hundred times, and I’ll assert it another hundred times.”
A national conversation on the integrity of the voting system has been spurred by President-elect Donald Trump, a Republican whom LePage endorsed.
Before he beat Democrat Hillary Clinton last month, Trump said the election would be “rigged,” and earlier this week, he said he won despite “millions” of people voting illegally. He has provided no evidence for those claims, with The Washington Post calling them “bogus” and counting only four cases of documented voter fraud in the U.S. during the election.
The Bangor Daily News was the Maine partner for Electionland, a consortium of news organizations headed by ProPublica that monitored the country for reports of voter fraud or voting problems on Election Day. No such allegations were reported or found in Maine.
There were a handful of minor issues. Dunlap said tabulation machines broke down for short periods in Mount Vernon, Lincolnville and Woolwich. In Scarborough, absentee ballots processed the day before the election were initially excluded from results. There were isolated reports of wrong ballots handed out to voters in some places.
Representatives for LePage didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday, but in October, he said he won’t trust Maine election results because it isn’t among the 34 states that require photo identification to vote.
Dunlap said LePage’s letter — officially a summons to report to Augusta for the next legislative session — was mailed to every newly elected legislator along with the secretary of state’s election certificate.
Rep. Matthew Moonen, D-Portland, called LePage’s letter “embarrassing” on Facebook, saying “nobody gives a s—- what (LePage) can attest to,” and Rep. Justin Chenette, D-Saco, who was elected to the Maine Senate, said on Twitter that LePage should provide evidence for his claims.
“Your baseless rhetoric hurts democracy,” Chenette wrote.
Senate President Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, said he had no comment on LePage’s letter, but he and his caucus were “excited” by the election results, since Republicans held their majority.