Prosecutor: Voting twice in November can lead to felony charges, prison time

Published: Sep. 4, 2020 at 7:16 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - President Donald Trump told voters in North Carolina this week to vote absentee, then go vote in person on Election Day to test the election system.

His words were met with harsh criticism from the legal community. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said voting twice is voter fraud and could land violators in jail.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton, who is a former Flint Township clerk, also strongly advises against voting twice.

“Voting twice is an act of fraud, voter fraud, and it’s a felony,” Leyton said. “It’s punishable by time in prison.”

The maximum sentence for voter fraud is up to four years in prison and a $2,000 fine.

Each state is responsible for the integrity of its own elections -- and that’s when things can get a little dicey, according to Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton.

“If someone is familiar with how clerks in one state communicate with clerks in another state, they could break the system and potentially be registered to vote in two places,” he said.

An example of that would be double voting. Some states prohibit voting in more than one state. Others, including Michigan, prohibit voting twice in the same election, and some don’t allow voting twice within the state or for the same office.

In other words, there’s no uniformity between states. But in Michigan, some safeguards are in place, Leyton said.

“The local clerk would know you requested an absentee ballot and returned it, so they would know not to allow you to vote a second time,” he said.

Leyton said voter fraud isn’t new. He believes most people are law abiding citizens, but there are people out there who can and will do it. Once they’re caught, then comes another challenge.

“You have to be able to show the person had intent to commit the fraud. That’s on the prosecutor to prove that,” Leyton said.

As for the concerns over delays with the U.S. Postal Service getting ballots in on time, Genesee County Clerk John Gleason is advising absentee voters to hand deliver their ballots directly to their local clerk’s office.

He said sending ballots in less than two weeks from the election will be risky and he isn’t confident they’ll be counted given the high volume expected to go through the postal service.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said absentee ballots should be sent in as soon as possible.

Copyright 2020 WJRT. All rights reserved.

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