It is comforting that the 12-member Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity includes Maine’s own secretary of state, Matt Dunlap, who grew up in Bar Harbor. Though its implied main mission as articulated by the president – rooting out voter fraud that experts agree is largely nonexistent – seems to be a wild goose chase, it is heartening that Dunlap’s knowledge and Down East common sense will be present at the commission’s table.
Though it likely irks his statehouse colleagues, Dunlap twice has refused the commission’s request for registration data and personal information about Maine voters. He cited privacy protections in Maine state law in his refusals. The president seems to see something nefarious afoot here and in other states that have refused to share data, saying he believes they are “worried” about “something.” Dunlap disagrees. “We’re not really worried about anything,” he told PBS NewsHour. “We just follow the law.” Mainers should appreciate Dunlap doing his duty by following Maine law rather than the commission’s bidding.
At the commission’s first meeting in July, Kansas Secretary of State and Commission Vice Chairman Kris Kobach was among those who played to fears some voters seem to have of widespread voter fraud. He suggested thousands in his state – and millions nationally, in the president’s mind – have voted illegally. Dunlap instead said the group should work to reassure Americans “that there are no goblins under the bed.” He said they should not be diverted from the fact that the current election system works well. He praised the work of city and town clerks in Maine, kudos that are well-deserved.
What the commission will accomplish is difficult to predict. But it and the country are better served for having Dunlap’s electoral experience and his Mount Desert Island matter-of-factness to draw from. We trust that Dunlap’s involvement will help bring desperately needed common sense to the discussion.