Somali voters challenged in Auburn by Republican poll watcher

Posted Wednesday, November 7, 2012 in News

Somali voters challenged in Auburn by Republican poll watcher

AUBURN – A pair of Somali immigrants had their right to vote challenged at the Ward 1 polling place at Washburn School Tuesday, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine said.

Melnick said poll watcher Gervis Legere, who lives in the precinct, was questioning the women because they were registering to vote with the assistance of an interpreter. Maine law allows a process for poll watchers to challenge voters.

When told he would have to sign an affidavit swearing to the fact he had personal knowledge the women were ineligible to vote, "he balked," Melnick said.

Melnick said Auburn polling officials reacted properly and allowed the women to vote after checking their identification and having them sign an affidavit that they were residents of the precinct. 

The challenger, Melnick said, just kept saying he didn't think it was right that they should be allowed to vote without providing proof of citizenship.

"He said if they had been here long enough to become citizens they should be able to speak English," Melnick said. "He had some philosophical differences over their need to produce proof of citizenship and the law."

The ACLU of Maine has posted staff and volunteer attorneys at several polling places in the Lewiston-Auburn area after a Androscoggin County Republican Party memo surfaced last week seeking poll watchers, challengers and strikers for specific voting places. 

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