A federal judge sentenced a former N.C. Board of Elections official to two months in federal prison followed by a year of supervised release for assisting a non-citizen to vote.
U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon announced Friday Judge Louise Wood Flanagan also ordered Wake County resident Denslo Allen Paige, 66, to pay a $250 fine and $25 special assessment.
The case is part of a larger action involving 19 foreign nationals indicted last by a grand jury in Wilmington.
Higdon also is the U.S. attorney to whom the state elections board sent its report on absentee ballot irregularities in Pender County during the 2016 election cycle. He has not commented on the status of that investigation. It came to light as part of further absentee ballot mischief in the 2018 9th U.S. Congressional District race unofficially won by Republican Mark Harris. The election has not been certified, and will be the subject of an evidentiary hearing set for Feb. 18.
Court records show Paige, who was a paid election worker, advised Guadalupe Espinosa-Pena, a Mexican citizen, to register and vote in the 2016 general election. She knew Espinosa-Pena, her boyfriend, was a legal permanent resident, but not a U.S. citizen, according to news reports at the time. Espinosa-Pena had been denied naturalization twice.
Paige urged him to vote to make his voice heard, and she assisted him in completing his voter registration form. He then voted at a Wake County polling site. Falsely claiming U.S. citizenship to vote carries a maximum sentence of six years’ imprisonment and a $350,000 fine.
The voter registration form’s first question asks, “Are you a citizen of the United States of America?” It instructs not to submit the form if the no box is checked.
Paige said she intentionally left the citizenship question unanswered, and submitted the form to a Board of Elections official. Someone at the Board of Elections checked yes in the citizenship block.
The investigation by several federal agencies continues.