An Orono resident pleaded not guilty Thursday to voting twice in the November election in a rare case of voter fraud in Maine.
Manikomal M. Kehler, 35, who was a student at the University of Maine, allegedly voted by absentee ballot on Oct. 30 in her hometown of Milford.
On Election Day, she went to the polls in Orono with a group of friends and did not tell election clerks that she had already voted, according to the Maine Attorney General’s office, which is prosecuting the case.
On Nov. 4, the day after the election, Kehler reported that she had voted twice but it was too late to pull back her ballot, Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin said in April when Kehler was indicted by the Penobscot County grand jury.
She was the second Orono woman charged with voter fraud in last year’s presidential election. Alyssa Dau, then 19, was charged after she used a former roommate’s absentee ballot to vote.
Dau was charged with voting in the name of another and forging the name of another on an absentee ballot return envelope, both Class C crimes. That case is still pending, according to Robbin.
Information about who the women voted for has not been made public.
The most recent conviction in a voter fraud case in Maine was in 2012, when an Oakland man pleaded guilty to forgery after he cast absentee ballots for his two adult children in the 2010 election. One of those children voted in person in Orono, where he was a student at the University of Maine and was unaware his father had cast a ballot in his name in Oakland.
A year earlier, a 65-year old voted twice on Nov. 3, 2009, when Maine voters repealed a same-sex marriage law passed by the Legislature and signed into law by former Gov. John Baldacci. Same-sex marriage was later approved in a 2012 referendum by 53.3 percent of the voters.
The man who admitted voting twice in 2009 was in the process of moving from Dixmont to Newburgh because of a divorce, according to BDN archives. He voted in Dixmont, then went to Newburgh to register his car. The clerk there handed him a voter registration card and a ballot.
He registered and voted without telling election officials he already had voted in Dixmont.
If convicted, Kehler faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Dau also faces the same potential penalties if convicted.