Vote Watch 2004
Vote/Election fraud, vote suppression, voting irregularities, voter intimidation in Election 2004



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10/28/04 [Permalink]
Inappropriate behavior, lying and attempted vote suppression by Democrat-hating Registrar in Rockland, Maine

Via dkosopedia, we have this report of a Democrat-hating Rockland registrar (bold text is my emphasis):

The Secretary of State's office has fielded complaints alleging inappropriate conduct by Evelyn Smyth, Rockland's registrar of voters.

Complaints range from concerns about partisanship and rudeness to a lack of willingness to register new voters and comply with state laws.

City residents registering to vote in Smyth's office at City Hall will not find a legally required placard informing them of their voting rights. But they will find a poster critical of former President Bill Clinton and liberal Democrats.

Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn said she has received calls from Knox County residents who complained about the "Clinton-bashing" poster in Smyth's office, and others who reported Smyth has improperly refused to accept voter registration cards.

This week, a person whose mother resides at a local nursing home called to report what she viewed to be unprofessional behavior by Smyth regarding absentee voting rights for nursing home residents. Flynn said she has not yet had time to pursue the most recent complaint.

Two Knox County residents reported Smyth rejected registration cards that were completed during door-to-door canvassing activities in Rockland. Both canvassers are Democrats, but the cards included undeclared and Republican voters as well, they said.

Alice Chartrand of Rockland said she brought a stack of completed cards to Smyth's office Oct. 5, but Smyth refused to accept them. Chartrand said Smyth claimed, incorrectly, that the cards needed to be submitted to the Secretary of State's office because they were submitted by a third party. Jane Karker of South Thomaston described a similar incident. Both women contacted the Secretary of State's office.

"I think there was a misunderstanding," Smyth responded. "Perhaps Ms. Chartrand did not understand what I was saying. My desk was overwhelmed that day. I told her ... my very first obligation is to the voter.... [The cards] were not refused. I told her what her options were."
[eRiposte note: Right!]

Smyth said she explained that Chartrand could either send the cards to the Secretary of State or leave them at the clerk's desk. Smyth said she had not met Karker, but she was told that the South Thomaston woman had spoken "at an increased decibel level" to the clerk and had complained about Smyth to the Secretary of State's office.

Flynn said she contacted Smyth by phone Oct. 8 after receiving the complaints. During a 45-minute conversation, Flynn said she and Smyth discussed laws which Smyth had misinterpreted, including requirements for identification and third-party registration.

Smyth denied Flynn had corrected any misconceptions on her part during that conversation, a contention that Flynn refuted.

"It is not accurate to say that," Flynn said. "She clearly felt she should not be accepting the cards."

Flynn said she referred Smyth to the training materials she already had received, and added that she was confident after their conversation that Smyth would do her job correctly from that point forward.

"I'm not sure she agrees with everything," Flynn said, noting Smyth disagrees with the state law that allows voters to register without providing identification.

Flynn said she advised Smyth that if she has proof people are trying to vote twice, she needs to follow proper legal procedures.

"I said to her point blank, 'If you have documentation, the AG's office will investigate,'" she said.

She speculated that perhaps Smyth's rigidity could have been misinterpreted as bias by the two Democrats.

"I know ... they believe there's some partisanship at work here," Flynn said. "Both indicated to me that Evelyn was rude. Evelyn said 'People are rude to me,' and she told me she goes by the letter of the law."
[eRiposte note: She just admitted she does not agree with the law!]

Voting rights

As of Tuesday afternoon, a state-produced poster called "Your Right to Vote in Maine," required to be displayed year-round in every registrar's office in the state, was not in Smyth's office in the City Hall building. On Election Day, the same placard is required to be located near the polls.

The poster lists 10 rights of voters, including the right to register on Election Day; the right not to be turned away at the polls; the right to vote a challenged ballot; the right to vote if you are waiting in line at the time the polls close; and the right not to be harassed when voting or influenced on how to vote.

"I was never sent anything like that," said Smyth, who has appointed as the city's registrar for six years. She added she would have posted it if she had received it.

Flynn said the poster was sent to all clerks.

The exterior of the registrar's office door contains a photocopy of a U.S. map from The Wall Street Journal which compares the taxes of all the states. A hand-written notation says Maine has the second-highest tax burden in the country.

"I think that's potentially advertising on the tax cap," Flynn said, referring to the statewide tax-cap referendum before voters. She said a "restricted activities" memo went to all clerks Friday, explaining that any literature promoting any potential vote is barred. Since absentee voting is currently taking place, the offices of clerks and registrars are considered off-limits for political advertising. Municipalities may not provide information promoting or denouncing the tax-cap initiative, she added.

Smyth said she placed the map on her door several months ago and she had no political agenda.

"I try to provide information. I'm not trying to sway the voter in any way," Smyth said. "I would never do that."
[eRiposte note: Bwa ha ha ha ha!]

The inside wall of Smyth's office contains a poster of former U.S. President Bill Clinton. The text states "You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time (with the exception of liberal Democrats)."

Asked about the appropriateness of the sign, Flynn said an anonymous caller had complained about a "Clinton-bashing sign" in Smyth's office, but did not provide other details. After hearing the words on the poster, Flynn denounced it.

"I definitely feel it's inappropriate," Flynn said. "I can't say for sure if it's illegal. That's something that is definitely partisan related."

Smyth defended her placement of the anti-Clinton poster, saying she also has Nixon on her wall. She was referring to a poster depicting former President Richard Nixon shaking hands with Elvis Presley.

"I collect posters and I think they're fine," Smyth said. "Until I'm told otherwise, it will remain there."

Flynn said state law requires registrars to remain impartial, and prohibits them from attempting to influence voters on public property. She said public employees are permitted to have political messages on private property at their homes, but they may not do so in a public office where people register to vote.

"You can't have advertising," she said. "For obvious reasons it's inappropriate."

Registration woes

Chartrand said that on the same day the registrar rejected her stack of registration cards, she had asked Smyth to check the status of four people who had reported being registered but whose names had not appeared on the updated public registration list. Each had told Chartrand a canvasser had come to their doors with cards, which they completed and gave back, but none had received verification, nor had they received a notice that their registration was incomplete.

None of the residents remembered the name, nor the affiliation, of the person who had come to their homes in Rockland's South End, Chartrand said.

Chartrand said she became concerned that a canvasser could have discarded or lost the registration cards. She said when Smyth looked for the names on her computer, the two people who had told Chartrand they had registered as Republicans were enrolled, but a Democrat and an independent were not.

Chartrand said another person told her they had tried to register as a Democrat in Rockland last year, and was told she had to be a Maine resident for six months prior to registering. Another Rockland resident told Chartrand she was surprised to learn her name had been removed from the list since her address had not changed and she had received no notification.

Flynn explained a voter's name can be removed only if the registrar receives documentation signed by the voter, a notice from the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles, a notice of registration from another jurisdiction, or a death record. She said all registrars are trained on circumstances in which voter names can be purged from the list.

Any time a voter is removed, the registrar is legally required to send a notice of removal by mail, she said.

Layers of laws

Flynn said because there are many layers of federal and state laws pertaining to voting, she commonly reviews them with registrars.

"She's not alone," Flynn said. "Despite the training, there will always be some issues we need to resolve." Flynn said during their recent conversation, she referred Smyth to the materials she had received at a recent training session at the Samoset Resort in Rockport.

Maine's laws are liberal when it comes to voter registration. Unlike some states, there is no length of residency requirement to register to vote. People may register on the day of the election, and no reason is required to vote by absentee ballot. Convicted felons may vote, and incarcerated individuals may vote by absentee ballot in the last municipality in which they lived prior to imprisonment. Registrars also are required to visit licensed facilities for the elderly to offer absentee voting to residents at least one time in the 30 days before the election, Flynn said.

A registrar may not refuse to accept a registration card, she added. The only exception is if the voter does not claim residency in the municipality of registration, in which case the registrar has the obligation to inform them of the proper location.

A voter is ineligible only if under the age of 18 the day of the election, not a U.S. citizen, or not a resident of Maine. If an application is incomplete, the person must be informed in writing and given the opportunity to complete it. Even in disputed cases, everyone has the right to complete a "challenged ballot" pending the outcome of the disputed issue, Flynn said.

"It protects the state, and it protects the voter," Flynn said. "You can always vote a challenged ballot. You can't be turned away

















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