The head of the Republican Party in Maine thinks there might have been voter fraud in his state because “nobody in town knows anyone who’s black,” but black voters came in to vote on election day.
GOP state chairman Charlie Webster aims to find those who committed the alleged fraud fraud by sending thank you cards to voters, and seeing if they are returned to sender.
In an interview with an NBC affiliate, Webster said he was astounded by the “dozens, dozens of black people” who voted, and thought it was odd because he personally doesn’t know anyone who knows a black person in town:
In some parts of rural Maine, there were dozens, dozens of black people who came in and voted on Election Day. Everybody has a right to vote, but nobody in town knows anyone who’s black. How did that happen? I don’t know. We’re going to find out….
I’m not politically correct and maybe I shouldn’t have said these voters were black, but anyone who suggests I have a bias toward any race or group, frankly, that’s sleazy.
Webster isn’t alone in using race to explain away Republicans’ losses this election season. Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan claimed that Obama won because of the “urban vote.” His running mate, former presidential nominee Mitt Romney, also said yesterday that Obama won re-election because of the “gifts” he gave black people, Latinos, and women.
On top of that, Webster’s methodology is, to say the least, flawed. Not knowing any black people isn’t evidence that they don’t exist, and having a piece of mail bounce back is not proof that voters intentionally lied about their address. Indeed, even though Maine has one of the smallest black populations in the country (just 1.3 percent of the state is black), it’s much more likely to find a black Mainer than an instance of voter fraud in the US. Voter fraud is less common than being struck by lightning, of which there’s just a 0.000001 percent chance.
Talking Points Memo spoke with Webster today, and he defended his earlier comments and assuring them that he is not racist because, “I know black people”:
“I regret saying the word black because it wasn’t like I was singling out black,” Webster said. “The reason I said it, ’cause I don’t know where you live, but where I come from in rural Maine, it’s a small percentage of the population. I think we’re the whitest state in the country. So if you go to the polls and see people who are black, it’s unusual. And when you see a lot of people who are black, like six or eight or ten people, you think, ‘Wow, where do they live?’ That was my point.”[…]
“There’s nothing about me that would be discriminatory. I know black people. I play basketball every Sunday with a black guy. He’s a great friend of mine. Nobody would ever accuse me of suggesting anything,” he said. “What I do suggest is that same-day voter registration without voter ID is pretty hard to police, and it’s odd that hundreds of people in a small town would show up.”
Webster came out with a full apology Thursday night. In a written statement, he tried to separate his theories about voter fraud from his perception of race in Maine: “”It was my intention to talk not about race, but about perceived voting irregularities,” he wrote. “However, my comments were made without proof of wrongdoing and they had the unintended consequence of casting aspersions on an entire group of Americans. For that, I am truly sorry.”