Voter fraud charges

By Diane Walker - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

LOUISA, VA (WWBT) – One of two Louisa county residents accused of voter fraud is talking to 12 On Your Side. The woman says she didn't know she was breaking the law and wants to tell her story.

A 30 year old felony drunk driving conviction is still on Bonnie Nicholson's record. State police arrested her almost a year after she voted in the last presidential election. Bonnie says she can't go to jail, but fears she might.

"I have a disabled son that was in an automobile accident back in 1998. He can't do nothing for himself. I can't go to jail. He couldn't make it, if I'm not here to take care of him," said Bonnie.

For the first time Virginia's voter registration rolls exceeded 5 million say election officials and Bonnie Nicholson was part of the historic election of America's first African American president. Bonnie says, when she got registration forms in the mail, she filled them out, skipping the question: Are you a convicted felon?

"I filled it out, they sent me my card and I said well, I must have my rights, I can vote," Bonnie said.

Election officials won't comment on what Bonnie did until the trial. But say they work to make sure the registration list is pure.

"It's very serious. I could be anywhere from a fine to time in jail, and we have had individuals in jail for voter fraud," said Nancy Rodrigues, State Board of Elections.

Charges could also be dropped, but Bonnie must explain her confusion since in 1998 she got a letter telling her she was banned, because she voted back then too. But she says, she never voted again until 2008.

"Why did they send me the application if I didn't have the right to vote? Why did the registrar give me a voter's card?" Bonnie said.

Bonnie says she remembers her probation officer discussing her civil rights.

"I asked him about my rights. He said don't worry. I will take care of it. I just want them to know that I'm an honest person. I did not know I was doing anything wrong, when I filled that application out and voted. I don't drink no more. I realize a lot of my mistakes I made in my young life," she said.

The second Louis, resident charged is 63 year old Bernard Louis Pace. Both people have January court dates. Groups that solicited banned voters might also be charged.

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