In this weekend’s Maine Sunday Telegram, columnist and Editorial Page Editor Greg Kesich blasted Paul LePage and Maine Republicans for their long history of “trashing the legitimacy of elections.” In the column, Kesich describes how this record began long before Donald Trump came along, starting when LePage took office in 2011 where the former governor and the Maine Republicans engaged in a concerted effort to undermine Mainers’ faith in our elections.

“Whether it was baseless allegations of voter fraud, claims of various elections being stolen, or attempts to make it more difficult for Mainers to vote, Paul LePage and his right-wing administration wrote the anti-democratic playbook that Republicans around the country are now following,” said Drew Gattine, Chair of the Maine Democratic Party. “We are lucky to have survived LePage’s time in office with the integrity of our democracy still intact. As efforts to silence the voices of voters who disagree with Republicans grow around the country, we can’t afford to give LePage another shot at undermining Maine’s democracy.”

Portland Press Herald: The View from Here: From hating Democrats to hating democracy

By Greg Kesich
January 9, 2022

Key Points:

  • The assault on democracy didn’t start when Donald Trump fired up a mob of fanatics on the National Mall last Jan. 6. High ranking Republicans have been trashing the legitimacy of elections for years, priming supporters to believe that they have to literally fight for their freedom.

  • In Maine, you can find these unfounded attacks going back a decade or more, and not just from anonymous cranks or marginal legislators. The rigged-election fantasies come straight from the top: from party leaders, a secretary of state and twice-elected Gov. Paul LePage, who wants to recapture his old office this November.

  • When Republicans took control of the Maine House, Maine Senate and governor’s office in 2011, they seemed poised to pass some of the voting restrictions used in other Republican-controlled states, which disproportionately affect minority and young voters. They installed as secretary of state Charlie Summers, who announced an investigation into widespread voter fraud, based, he claimed, on records proving that hundreds of out-of-staters were illegally voting in Maine elections.

  • “In some parts of rural Maine, there were dozens, dozens of Black people who came in and voted on Election Day,” [then-Republican Party Chair Charlie Webster] fumed. ”Everybody has a right to vote, but nobody in (these) towns knows anyone who’s Black. How did that happen? I don’t know. We’re going to find out.”

  • LePage took antidemocratic trutherism to a new level. Weeks before Election Day in 2016, Maine’s then-governor claimed without evidence that “I’m not confident of a clean election in Maine.”

  • After the votes were counted, he sent a formal letter to legislators who’d won their races, writing – with no supporting evidence – “I maintain strong concerns regarding the integrity of Maine’s ballot and accuracy of Maine’s election results and I cannot attest to the accuracy of the tabulation certified by the Secretary of State.”

  • He was more succinct in 2018 when Republican Bruce Poliquin lost his congressional race to Jared Golden. In the official document certifying the results, LePage scribbled “stolen election.”

  • Between their attacks on the legitimacy of elections and the meek silence of other Republicans who ought to know better, we have an authoritarian movement in this country that’s not going away.