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Protest vote ends in plea deal

Eugene Victor wanted to prove a point.

He succeeded, and under terms of a plea deal the 68-year-old Corrales man will serve 18 months unsupervised probation for fraudulently voting in his son’s stead in last year’s general election.

Victor, a Republican who according to state records has voted in 20 local, state and federal elections since 1992, told State Police he wanted to “prove a point” about the lack of voting restrictions in New Mexico by casting an official ballot for his son and signing his son’s name upon receiving the ballot.

After casting the ballot at the Corrales Senior Center on Oct. 25, Victor told police he felt guilty and turned himself in to various voting authorities in the county, according to a State Police complaint. He also told the officer he had voted a day earlier using his own information at the Meadowlark Senior Center in Rio Rancho.

“During an interview with Mr. Victor, he disclosed being upset with the voting system and the no-identification requirement to vote,” the State Police officer wrote in the complaint. “Mr. Victor stated he was angry and wanted to prove a point, so he voted for his son.”

Victor initially was charged with false voting, forgery and fraudulent and double voting, but the plea agreement struck everything but the false voting charge, according to documents in Sandoval County district court.

Victor’s attorneys and prosecutors with the state Attorney General’s Office went before District Court Judge George Eichwald earlier this week to hash out details of the agreement. Eichwald denied a request from AG’s Office for a pre-sentence report and instead granted a defense request for a conditional discharge, which allows for dismissal of charges if a defendant meets all the conditions of probation.

Victor pleaded “no contest” to the charge, a fourth-degree felony.

His attorneys did not respond to requests for comment this week, and a woman at his Corrales home said Victor was unavailable and declined to speak to a reporter.

Sandoval County officials, including the county clerk’s office, declined to comment on the case.

New Mexico is one of about 20 states that do not require or request voters to show any type of identification at the polls. Advocates of so-called “voter identification” laws say that requiring IDs or other identification at the polls would root out voter fraud, but opponents say the laws would disenfranchise elderly and minority voters. The debate mostly falls along party lines, with Republicans supporting tougher restrictions.

Attorney General Hector Balderas said in a statement that it was necessary to pursue the case to ensure the fairness and credibility of elections statewide.

“My office thoroughly investigated and secured a plea to a felony offense in this voter fraud case, because it is critical to strengthen integrity in the election process,” Balderas said.

The order detailing the exact conditions of Victor’s probation had not yet been filed as of Thursday afternoon.