Charlie Webster, the state chair of the Maine Republican party, has produced documents claiming to show that over two hundred of the state’s college students have committed fraud by voting in Maine while paying out-of-state tuition.
This is a lie. It’s an evil lie. It’s just … jeez.
Here’s the deal. If you move to Maine for college, you have to pay out-of-state tution your first year. And your second. And your third. And your fourth. And your fifth. You have to pay out-of-state tuition forever, in fact, until you demonstrate that you have “established a Maine domicile for other than educational purposes.”
And as long as you’re attending college full-time, you’ll be “presumed to be in Maine for educational purposes and not to establish a domicile.” Again: Forever.
You can arrive in Maine fresh out of high school, move into your own place, live there 365 days a year. Work there, spend summers there, get married there. Finish your undergraduate degree, go on to grad school. But as long as you’re still a student, you’re “presumed to be in Maine for educational purposes and not to establish a domicile,” and the burden of proof is on you to show otherwise. (“No one factor can be used to establish domicile,” by the way. “All factors and circumstances must be considered on a case-by-case basis.”)
Paying out-of-state tuition isn’t evidence that you don’t live in Maine, in other words. It’s not evidence of anything at all. Out-of-state tuition is a revenue stream for the university and the state, and as such, it’s designed to put every possible burden on the student who’s looking to get out from under it.
Which brings us back to Charlie Webster.
What Webster is doing here is deploying a state regulation designed to deprive Maine’s college students of their money as a mechanism to deprive them of their votes. There’s no other way to describe it. Take their money, take their votes. Justice, fairness, and the Supreme Court of the United States be damned.
It’s really that simple.