Maine Republicans, who’ve set themselves up as the state’s guardians of electoral integrity, held their own electoral contest last weekend. As Steve noted on Sunday, Mitt Romney won the state GOP caucus by an underwhelming three points, beating Ron Paul 39 percent to 36 percent with a margin of 194 votes. The victory gave Romney the chance to look like a winner again after a string of losses to Rick Santorum the week before.
Here comes the asterisk – one county delayed its caucus until March this Saturday* because the forecast called for snow. The Maine GOP has declared a winner anyway, for now:
After the former Massachusetts governor’s win was announced, [Republican Party chair Charlie] Webster said that no more votes would be counted, infuriating Paul supporters who felt it disenfranchised Republicans in Washington County. Paul, the Texas congressmen, even suggested that he might pull off a tie if the Down East county’s votes are factored in.
Party leaders acknowledged that some mistakes in tallying votes occurred elsewhere, but the sum of the errors was not significant. In Waterville, the caucus contact person failed to phone in the results in time for Saturday’s announcement; in Portland, results for Romney and Paul were reversed when the state party released the figures, GOP officials said.
That’s how Maine Republicans, defenders of the ballot, have handled their own Republican process. Gerald Weinand of the progressive site Dirigo Blue points to a thread on a Republican site, As Maine Goes, in which a leading Republican says the point of the caucus was to boost turnout, “to get media attention; and to get candidates to come to Maine to campaign. It was successful on all counts.”
It’s worth noting that Maine Republicans spent much of last year trying to make voting harder. State Republican chair Charlie Webster pressed for – and got – a state investigation into whether university students had committed fraud; they hadn’t. The Republican secretary of state then sent a letter to students cleared of wrongdoing, warning them that they might be breaking the law.
In November, Maine Republicans tried to defend their law ending same-day registration with an ad that basically said supporting easier voting is a gay cause; Republicans lost their bill to a citizens’ veto. ADDING: This year, Maine Republicans floated the idea of requiring photo ID at the polls before thinking better of it (h/t commenter @ramurphy2005)
See also: Nevada, where counting at the Republican caucus did not so great. And Iowa, where the Republican caucus was a debacle and where Republicans are again calling for a statewide bill to make voting harder with requirements they chose not to use when only Republicans were voting.
*Corrected: The missing county, Washington, votes on Saturday. Maine GOP chair Charlie Webster says the party will consider whether to change the results at its meeting on March 10.