letter to the editor

It's all about voter intimidation

Mon, 06/14/2021 - 3:15pm

Dear Editor:

During Alna's March 27, 2021 election, one resident challenged the right of several other town residents to vote. The challenger claimed that these voters were not legal town residents and therefore not qualified to vote, because their living arrangements violated Alna's Building Code Ordinance. In short, he was alleging voter fraud.

Our newly elected selectboard spent two months investigating these claims. They reviewed the facts. They consulted with the Maine Attorney General's Office, the Maine Municipal Association, and the town attorney regarding both voter qualifications laws and the proper interpretation of Alna's Building Code Ordinance. The conclusion: there is no merit to the challenges and the voters were fully qualified to vote.

What is now clear is that this was an attempt to intimidate voters. The challenger was trying to influence the outcome of the election by intimidating legal residents. One of the warrant articles and two of the elections were of personal interest to the challenger and he was afraid he would lose.

These voter challenges were a source of great stress to the challenged voters, who were being accused of voter fraud and threatened with being forced to move out of their homes. These challenges were a terrible waste of time, for the selectboard members, the town clerks, the town Code Enforcement Officer, the town lawyer, and the staff of the Maine Attorney General's Office and the Maine Municipal Association. They were also costly to the town, both in cost of lost time for the employees involved and in legal fees.

I hope that future residents and voters will not be intimidated by this incident, and that it will backfire on the challenger. Hopefully all Alna citizens will continue to come out and vote, knowing that their right to vote will be upheld by our town and state officials.

Katy Papagiannis