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University of Maine student charged with two felonies in relation to voter fraud

Alyssa Dau, a second-year student at the University of Maine, was charged two class C felonies in relation to a fraudulent voting incident and both charges carry a fine of up to $5,000 and the potential for five years in prison. Dau was charged with voting in the name of another and forging the name of another on an absentee ballot after using her former roommate’s absentee ballot to cast a vote in their name. Dau’s roommate, Evan Suleiman, who prefers to be referenced by gender neutral pronouns, said that they were still able to vote, but they were not immediately aware that their ballot was tampered with. Suleiman said that their absentee ballot did not arrive at their new address and they called the town office to see if they would be able to vote in person instead. The office initially said yes, but the municipal clerk reached out to Suleiman the next day saying a ballot had already been cast in their name. After the municipal clerk marked the ballot as fraudulent, an investigation was launched and Dau confessed. Dau was charged but no information has been released regarding a court appearance. It is assumed that Dau committed voter fraud due to a personal dispute with Suleiman. Dau declined to comment when she was contacted by the Maine Campus. 

“Actual voter fraud, in which a person intentionally casts a vote illegally such as in another person’s name, is very rare in Maine and this case shows that the systems we have in place work to flag any questionable activities around voting and see that they are fully investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Kristen Muszynski, the director of communications for the department of the secretary of state explained.

The last case of voter fraud in Maine occurred in 2010 when a 65-year-old man voted twice, once in Dixmont and once in Newburgh. The state of Maine takes these cases very seriously and is working hard to resolve the current case. 

UMaine has not made a statement regarding this incident, however Sean O’Mara, who works for student legal services commented on the role UMaine plays in situations like this. 

“The University of Maine generally [doesn’t] involve itself in cases that [do] not directly involve the student’s role at UMaine, or that [don’t] occur at UMaine itself, but they’ve taken a broader approach in recent years,” O’Mara said.

 O’Mara does not believe that UMaine will involve itself specifically in this case because it occurred off campus and it would be difficult “to demonstrate how this threatens any educational process, legitimate function of the university, or the health and safety of any individual”. He shared that felony convictions do not bar anyone from attending the university, however, students must follow the Student Conduct Code, and if they violate it they can be dismissed from the university. 

This story is still developing as Dau has not been sentenced or appeared before the Penobscot County court. If you believe that your ballot has been tampered with please speak with your local municipal clerk. Everyone has the right to cast a challenged ballot to ensure that their vote will be counted; the town and state can work together to launch an investigation. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3, and any person still in line at the polls after 8 p.m. has the legal right to cast their ballot. 

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