Maine’s congressional delegation isn’t worried about ‘rigged’ elections

Good morning from Augusta, where Maine’s congressional delegation isn’t worried about your ballot boxes being “rigged” this November.

A highlight from Wednesday’s presidential debate was Republican Donald Trump’s reservation of the right to not accept an election loss, with more than two-thirds of voters in a POLITICO/Morning Consult survey saying the loser should concede.

Recently, he has been blasting a “rigged system” of media and government working to elect Democrat Hillary Clinton. This includes unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud taken apart by after the debate as “bogus.”

Gov. Paul LePage, a Trump endorser, agreed on Tuesday with Trump’s “rigging” claim, saying the presidential election favors insiders and he doesn’t have confidence in Maine’s election system because it doesn’t require identification to vote.

In 2012, a Maine panel convened by a Republican secretary of state opposed stricter voter ID laws. Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, a Democrat, said the voting process is guarded and called it “curious that the governor would question the integrity of a system under which he was elected twice.”

However, LePage broke with Trump on acceptance of results on Thursday, saying it was a “stupid comment,” telling Trump to “take your licks” in a loss “and let’s move on four years.” Maine’s congressional delegation isn’t worried.

In a joint statement, spokespeople for U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King — a Republican and independent, respectively — said they “have always had full faith and confidence in the integrity of the American electoral system, and expect this November’s election to be no different.”

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from the 1st District, said Trump’s “questioning of whether he will accept the will of voters is truly dangerous and goes against the country’s (democratic) values.”

Michael Byerly, the spokesman for Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s re-election campaign in the 2nd District, said while “some have concerns about places like Philadelphia and other cities where there have been issues,” Poliquin’s campaign is “confident that the clerks and volunteers in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District will do their duty well on Election Day.”

For the record, Philadelphia has been one of Trump’s focal cities when discussing voter fraud. In 2012, conservatives cited 59 precincts there where Republican Mitt Romney won no votes as an example of it. But Snopes found it to be a pretty plausible outcome in pockets of the city. — Michael Shepherd

Quick hits

  • Maine’s 2nd District has been moved to presidential toss-up status by the Cook Political ReportIt previously favored Trump there after a double-digit polling lead there in September, but a recent Maine poll had the race effectively tied there. The Beltway prognosticator also has Poliquin’s race with Democrat Emily Cain as a toss-up.
  • A Colby College poll found that 70 percent of Americans think the presidential election will lower our standing in the world. The poll of 845 voters conducted by SurveyUSA for the Waterville college and The Boston Globe focused on political civility, which was valued by 90 percent of respondents, with 76 percent saying it has gotten worse in the last 10 years. — Michael Shepherd

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Reporter discovers loophole in Portland’s bag tax

I found myself in Portland yesterday evening for some master’s classwork and stopped at the Hannaford on Forest Avenue to grab a rotisserie chicken for dinner on my way home to Gardiner.

Usually, I take my reusable shopping bag on grocery excursions. This time, I forgot it at home. When I got to the register with a chicken and boxes of rice and crackers, I panicked — I would have to pay Portland’s five-cent bag tax unless I just carried everything out to the car.

That’s what I told the cashier that I’d do, until she suggested placing the chicken in one of the bags you use for produce, into which I also stuffed my rice. No charge, she said by the letter of the ordinance, which exempts “produce bags” to simply regulate “single-use carryout bags.”

But don’t worry, Mayor Ethan Strimling, D-Nanny State, the bag is in my recycling. Here’s my soundtrack— Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.