Friday, June 30, 2017

TOP STORY >> Pedersen cleared of voter fraud

Leader staff writer

Bill Pedersen was alleged to have tried to vote twice in the 2016 Cabot runoff election, but the county prosecutor and the Lonoke County Election Commission have decided not to seek charges agains him.

Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Graham earlier decided not to press charges, and the election commission has also decided to drop its complaint against Pedersen.

Graham said, “We take elections seriously. The Cabot Police did a thorough investigation, and we saw no need for criminal charges. The system worked. It was the right, the fair thing to do.”

According to the Oct. 31 minutes of the election commission meeting, chairman Jerry Shepard said, “Mr. Pedersen took it upon himself in the city (Cabot) runoff election to present his ID to vote for a second time.”

In a response letter to the Lonoke County Election Commission written June 9, Pedersen claims he wasn’t attempting to commit fraud. “I just asked the question, ‘Can you check to see if I have voted?’”

The election commission said it “appreciate(d) your statement that you will not again engage in such conduct. We will take you at your word. However, please be informed that we will take any future violations of law directly to the appropriate officials.”

Susan Inman, Arkansas County Election Commissions Associations’ former president and executive director, said, “It is punishable as a felony, but the prosecuting attorney has to make the decision to charge” a person.

Before the October meeting, the election commission unanimously voted to file a complaint with the Cabot Police Department.

Those complaints included attempting to vote twice – a felony – disrupting a polling site and creating a disturbance at a polling site.

A report was filed with the Cabot Police Department.

This was not the first time Pedersen has caused controversy at a polling site.

In 2012, he was arrested for threatening behavior directed to Justice of the Peace Henry Lang. The Leader reported that Pedersen drove his car to within inches of where Lang was sitting at the Cabot City Annex during early voting, blew the horn, cursed him and made obscene gestures.

Lang filed another complaint with city officials the next morning, saying Pedersen threatened him.

Pedersen pleaded guilty and was fined $450.