July 28, 2011
Contact: Caitlin E. Chamberlain
(207) 441-0501

Secretary of State Charles E. Summers, Jr.'s Remarks Concerning Possible Voter and Identity Fraud

As you are certainly all aware, this past Monday, the chairman of the Maine Republican Party, Mr. Charlie Webster, presented me with allegations of potential voter fraud and other suspicious voter activity that he asked me to investigate.

The Department of the Secretary of State will, at this point, will be folding this inquiry into a broader preliminary review that it was already conducting into potential identity and related voter fraud. 

Prior to Mr. Webster’s revelation on Monday, I had been approached on July 1st by an employee of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles who reported to me her experiences of accepting voter registration forms from customers she believed to be non-citizens.  She felt compelled to bring to my attention issues of concern pertaining to possible voter and identity fraud in connection with the Motor-Voter initiative as a result of Department policies in effect prior to my taking office as Secretary of State.  When she voiced her concerns under previous administrations and provided documentation in support of her conclusions, senior level management within the Department instructed her to disregard such activity and destroy the documents she had compiled related to this subject.

As you can imagine, this raised some very serious concerns for me as Secretary of State since I oversee both the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the Bureau of Elections.  During my review of the information provided to me by this employee, what I find MOST alarming, is that when her suspicions were brought forward, senior – level – management within the Department of the Secretary of State – ordered – these files be shredded; files that contained copies of what were believed to be fraudulent documents which could have assisted law enforcement officials in the investigation and apprehension of those who've unlawfully attempted – and in many instances, obtained a valid Maine driver’s license or ID card which could then be used to validate themselves in other areas such as registering to vote, traveling freely within US borders or purchasing a weapon and/or ammunition.  Based on the information this employee provided to me, I initiated a preliminary search, in conjunction with Federal Authorities, for any indications that non-citizens may be fraudulently obtaining a Maine credential and/or registering to vote in Maine.

I am, to say the least, shocked at the information my Office has uncovered thus far.

At this time, the Department of the Secretary of State has contacted the Office of the Attorney General and provided it with all of the materials gathered during our in-house exploration of these matters and I have requested the Attorney General work with me to conduct an investigation into our findings.

The Secretary of State’s Office and its Bureau of Elections is a bipartisan office and potential voter fraud is a concern for all Maine citizens.  The allegations that non-residents – non-citizens are possibly voting in our elections affect all Maine people regardless of any political affiliation.  Maine people are good, law-abiding citizens – of this I have no doubt; but to think that we are immune to fraud – including voter fraud – is naïve at best.  The very possibility that someone who is not eligible to vote is cancelling out the vote of one of us who has an inherent right to have his or her voice heard is unacceptable to me and my administration.

I am troubled by the implications brought forward by the information presented to me and that is why I've called for assistance from the Attorney General in investigating any misuse of our voting system including potential voter fraud and motor vehicle violations.  I won't, however, draw any conclusions until a thorough investigation has been conducted and I've had the opportunity to review the findings.  I will, however, continue to provide updates to the extent that I am able on this matter as it evolves.

Thank you and I would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.