Voter complaints received at the Farmington polls

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FARMINGTON – Town Clerk Leanne Dickey confirmed she did receive some complaints alleging a man was confronting University of Maine at Farmington students outside the polls on Tuesday, asking if they were registering to vote and if they were from out of state.

Bill Crandall of Farmington said he did stand on the front lawn at the polls in the Farmington Community Center next to a large poster display of information about voter registration procedures taken from the Maine Secretary of State’s online page titled Maine Voting Residence Fact Sheet. He said he asked people on the sidewalk passing by if they intended to register to vote and if they had an out-of-state driver’s license. He also asked if they would want more information on the state’s voter registration law.

“I was providing information on how out-of-state people can register to vote. I was nice to everyone,” he said. “I thanked them for voting. I never told anyone they couldn’t vote.”

Dickey said she received complaints about Crandall as a good turnout of voters filed into the polls on Tuesday. “I did check on him,” she said. Dickey and other poll workers along with three voter rights advocates at the polls kept an eye on Crandall through the day. Crandall handed out flyers with information that included eligibility requirements to register and vote in Maine, steps to establish a residence and the possible ramifications of registering to vote in Maine. The fact sheet notes if “you register to vote in Maine, you will be deemed to have declared residency in Maine, which may require compliance with other Maine laws, including the motor vehicle laws and tax laws.”

Crandall said he wanted to make sure people registering to vote by establishing their residency knew that they might be required to change their driver’s license, pay Maine state taxes and register a motor vehicle within 30 days of moving here.

However, according to the Secretary of State’s fact sheet to be eligible to register to vote in Maine there are only three requirements: a person needs to be a citizen of the United States; be at least 17 years old to vote in primary elections and 18 by the general election; and have established a residence in the municipality where the person wants to vote.

A section states that the ability of students to “establish a voting residence at your Maine school address if you have a present intention to remain at that address for the time being, whether that residence is a dorm, apartment, house or even a hotel.”

Dickey consulted with Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap who confirmed that Crandall was within his First Amendment rights of free to talk with voters outside the polls. “He wasn’t influencing voters; he was giving information about voter registration,” she said.

She also noted that reports that Crandall had managed to turn away 50 people wanting to register to vote was not true. Three people, all residents of other towns, were told they needed to vote at the polls in their hometown. All three happened to be in Farmington and thought it would be more convenient to vote here.

“He did not turn anyone away to register to vote,” Dickey said.

Crandall said he decided to provide information about voter registration laws at the polls for the midterm election because he felt there wasn’t enough information provided by the Secretary of State.

“I was watching the TV news and saw how cavalier the Secretary of State (Dunlap) was about the (voter registration) law. There’s no way I don’t want people to vote,” he said and added, “I wanted to provide some education.”

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