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According to Charlie Webster, the chairman of Maine’s Republican Party, a group of unknown black people committed voter fraud in the Pine Tree State on Election Day.

“In some parts of rural Maine, there were dozens, dozens of black people who came in and voted on Election Day,” Webster told a local NBC affiliate on Wednesday. How does Webster know that they weren’t registered voters performing their civic duty?

“Everybody has a right to vote, but nobody in town knows anyone who’s black,” Webster explained.

Later, Webster told the Portland Press-Herald, “I’m not talking about 15 or 20. I’m talking hundreds.”

“I’m not politically correct and maybe I shouldn’t have said these voters were black,” he added, “but anyone who suggests I have a bias toward any race or group, frankly, that’s sleazy.”

Of course, just because Webster doesn’t know any African-Americans in Maine doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. While Maine is one of the whitest states in the union, 1.3 percent of the state’s population is black. Considering that President Obama won Maine by over 100,000 votes, it seems unlikely that dozens — or even hundreds — of black voters went to rural Maine to commit the nearly non-existent crime of voter fraud on his behalf.

Webster’s comments are just the latest in a long line of incidents that seem almost specifically designed to drive black voters away from the Republican Party.

To the Maine GOP’s credit, it seems to realize this. The Press-Herald reports that after Webster spoke out, Republican strategist Lance Dutson immediately called for his resignation, and Megan Sanborn — spokeswoman for Secretary of State and Republican Senate candidate Charlie Summers — publicly rebuked Webster’s theory.

UPDATE: In an interview with Talking Points Memo on Thursday evening, Webster defended himself against charges of racism.

“I regret saying the word black because it wasn’t like I was singling out black,” Webster told Ryan J. Reilly. “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.”

Webster concluded with perhaps the least helpful statement possible: “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.”

Hat-tip: Kevin Robillard, Politico.

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