Under the Dome

90-year-old Raleigh man pleaded guilty to voting fraud charge

Leland Duane Lewis fought the law.

The law won.

Lewis, who recently turned 90, voted twice in 2010 to show that he and others inclined to do so could cast multiple ballots without getting caught.

The story caught the attention of The News & Observer last August, and reached by phone in a recent interview, Lewis said his case has been resolved. He followed legal advice and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge related to voting fraud last October. He served no jail time but had to pay $180 in court costs and a $200 fine.

Lewis said  he’s pretty confident he was the oldest guy in Wake County Jail when he was booked on the charges, and judging by his mugshot, he was none too pleased. He said he was taken in on an arrest warrant and briefly placed in a holding cell.

The trouble began for Lewis was when he decided to fill out one side of the ballot at an early-voting station at Optimist Park in West Raleigh and then the other side of the ballot at his regular precinct on Election Day.

“They’re not protecting the ballot if they’re letting people go in and pick up two,” Lewis said. “I’m fed up. It’s been going on for years, and it’s more widespread than we think it is.”

Even though he pleaded guilty, Lewis believes the district attorney didn’t present the correct ballot to the judge. Lewis said he wanted to get a fingerprint analysis of the ballot given to the judge as evidence and said he opted not to only to avoid the court appearances and a potentially harsh sentence if he was wrong.

“I’m disappointed in the way they handled it and what they did,” said Lewis, a registered Republican. "The system is broken, and that's what they need to focus on. That was my whole point."

The prevalence of voting fraud and whether a policy response is needed has been a issue around the country, and in North Carolina. Raleigh-based Voter Integrity Project recently compiled a list of 30,000 names of dead people who are still registered to vote.

Many Republicans, like N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis, support requiring government-issued photo ID to vote; many Democrats believe such measures are intended to suppress the minority vote.


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Republican boasts about vote ID crime?

A registered Republican goes out to deliberately committ vote fraud to support the Republican cause, but messes it up because not only did he get caught, ID had nothing to do with it at all?

Wouldn't that tend to discourage folks from registering or voting Republican?

Why am I thinking the answer is no?

Lots of unanswered questions here.



a different kind of fraud

The double voting fraud here has nothing to do with voter ID and the system is designed to(and does) catch it. This gentleman voted under his own name at both early voting and on election day so voter id would do nothing to stop this.  When the absentee voting system was overhauled in 1973 to move absentee ballot counting from the precinct on election day to a central location, the absentee (and now also the early voting) ballots are marked with a number that in the system is tied to the voter. It is not open to public inspection. If the voter votes early (or by mail) the election database marks that voter as having voted.  If the voter votes again on election day, then when the authorization to vote that the voter signs at the polling place is scanned in to update the voting record the system automatically notifies the elections board of the double vote and the early (or mail-in) ballot is retrieved from the counting bins (yes they have to search for it) and the vote is subtracted from the total. That is the same fraud that several other people were convicted of in 2009.

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