Local News

Former Wake elections worker gets prison time for helping non-citizen vote

Posted February 8, 2019 2:45 p.m. EST
Updated February 8, 2019 6:53 p.m. EST

— A former Wake County elections precinct worker was sentenced Friday to two months in prison for helping a Mexican citizen register to vote in the 2016 election.

Denslo Allen Paige, 66, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting voting by an alien and also was fined $250.

Federal prosecutors said Paige knew that Guadalupe Espinosa-Pena wasn't a U.S. citizen – he had twice been denied naturalization – but she helped him complete his voter’s registration form.

Espinosa-Pena intentionally left the citizenship question on the form blank before submitting it. Sometime later, as the Wake County Board of Elections was processing the registration, someone checked "yes" next to the citizenship question, prosecutors said.

“When a non-citizen votes in a federal election, it serves to dilute and devalue the vote of American citizens and places the decision making authority of the American electorate in the hands of those who have no right to make those choices," U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon said in a statement. "This case is particularly disturbing as the defendant worked for the Board of Elections.”

Prosecutors said Paige worked for the "North Carolina Board of Elections," but board officials couldn't find any record of her as an employee. Wake County Elections Director Gary Sims said Paige worked as a volunteer precinct official and wasn't even a county employee.

Sims disputed the federal prosecutor's position that someone in his office tampered with an election registration form. His staff only scans in forms for digital records, performs some data entry work and contacts voters if they notice some information, such as an unanswered citizenship question, is missing.

In a separate case Friday, Dieudonne Soifils, 72, was placed on probation for a year after pleading guilty to voting by an alien.

Soifils, a Haitian national and a resident of Beaufort County, voted in the 2012 and 2016 elections after claiming to be a U.S. citizen on a voter registration form, authorities said.