ALTON – A Madison County Republican election judge is facing felony charges of voter fraud after she allegedly mailed in a ballot belonging to her dead husband.
Audrey R. Cook, 88, of Alton is accused of sending in an absentee ballot that belonged to her husband. She faces two counts of elections fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons told the Record that any attempt to undermine the electoral process should be treated seriously and that the electoral process should be protected from voter fraud.
“Futhermore, because of her position as an election judge, she must be held to a higher standard,” Gibbons said.
Madison County Clerk Debra Ming-Mendoza told the Record that Cook has been removed from her position.
“This individual will not be working at the polls,” she said.
Cook told The Associated Press that she and her husband Vic served as election judges for many years, and before his death, the two discussed who they were voting for. Before he died in September, he requested an absentee ballot despite battling an illness. When his ballot came in the mail, she allegedly went ahead and sent the ballot in with who he said he wanted to elect.
“He wanted to live so badly to see [Donald] Trump straighten out this sickening mess,” she told the Associated Press.
An employee at the county clerk’s office examines absentee ballots before submission, which includes cross checking names with death records. The ballot was not opened and officials did not know which candidates were supported on it.
Election judges are officials responsible for making sure voting is done responsibly and efficiently at precincts. Judges are put through multiple training sessions covering both voting procedure and potential issues at the polls.
Gibbons said election judges are sworn under an oath to uphold the constitution and law to protect the electoral process.
“An attempt to submit a forged absentee ballot violate the law and is certainly inconsistent with the oath of office,” Gibbons said. “No matter what the reason, voter fraud cannot be allowed. Anyone considering an attempt to subvert the electoral process should think twice. These cases are taken very seriously.”
It is unclear whether Cook was taken into custody as of Monday.
Ming-Mendoza would not comment on Cook’s case in particular, but said the office has had no other instances of voter fraud.