Esme’s Blog: Prosecuting An 86-Year-Old For Voter Fraud

This week WCCO-TV brought you an absurd story of a seemingly unjustifiable prosecution.

Margaret Schneider, 86, of St. Peter, who suffers from dementia, was charged with voter fraud because she voted twice in last Augusts’ primary.

Schneider says she simply forgot that that she had cast an absentee ballot four weeks earlier when she went to the polls.

In most crimes, prosecutors need to show there was criminal intent. Schneider says she never intended to vote twice, and her prior medical history of memory lapses supports her case. But the law she is being prosecuted under is different than most any other Minnesota criminal statute.

It requires that the prosecutor must file charges if there is any evidence that the law was violated. The prosecutor, Nicollet County Attorney Michelle Zehnder Fischer, said she had no choice.

The legislature is currently looking at changing this law to give prosecutors the kind of discretion they have in other cases. Courts and prosecutors have enough real crime to deal with.

Margaret Schneider, despite being charged with a felony, is no criminal.

As she puts, “you see what you remember when you are 86.”

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