Mount Desert Island’s own Matthew Dunlap, Maine’s secretary of state, was spotted at a number of polling places in the state on Election Day last week. He thanked volunteer election workers, answered questions and made sure all was running smoothly.
Two days later, he made national headlines when he filed a lawsuit claiming that the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity excluded him and others from its work.
Dunlap knows of what he speaks when it comes to voting, having overseen Maine elections for 10 of the last 12 years. He has the respect of Mainers of both parties. It was good to have him join the commission, it was good that he followed Maine law by refusing to share voter information, and it is good to see him holding the panel to account now.
“My goal in filing this lawsuit is to bring the commission into full compliance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which would allow me and all of my fellow commissioners to fulfill our roles as full, participating members and provide a meaningful report to the president upon concluding our work,” Dunlap said in a statement released by his office.
The commission has met twice since it was organized in early summer. Dunlap’s requests for information, even about when the next meeting might be convened, have netted nothing. Further, the October death of David Dunn of Arkansas during surgery left the panel with seven Republicans and four Democrats, a pretty lopsided group for one required by law to be balanced “in terms of the viewpoints represented.”
Dunlap is not the type to engage in “partisan attacks in the press,” which is the way committee Chairman Chris Kobach of Kansas characterized the lawsuit in a PBS interview last week.
Rather, he is seeking sunlight on the process that was itself intended to illuminate weaknesses in the nation’s voting systems.
“My position is, is that you have these lingering questions that have been around for a while now about illegal activity around elections,” Dunlap told PBS in July. “Sunshine is the greatest disinfectant. I have full confidence that everything that’s been claimed will probably be largely debunked. And what we will find will probably be the product of mistakes and errors and unintended actions that were never meant to become felonies … with that understanding, I think we’re going to find that we have a really pretty good system that’s very, very decentralized, which actually adds to its level of security.”