BANGOR, Maine — A Newburgh man accused of voting twice on Election Day pleaded not guilty to voter fraud Thursday at the Penobscot Judicial Center.
Delmer Terrill, 65, was released on personal recognizance bail. He is scheduled to appear in court again on June 11.
Terrill is the first person in Maine to be charged with voter fraud since the 1970s, according to the state Attorney General’s Office, which brought the charges against him.
He allegedly voted in Dixmont on Nov. 3, Election Day, then registered and voted in Newburgh.
Terrill was indicted in February by the Penobscot County grand jury for voting twice in the same election and making a false statement or false oath.
Terrill’s attorney, Charles Cox, said before the arraignment that his client did vote twice last year but was not part of any organized effort to influence the outcome of a particular ballot question.
November’s ballot included questions to repeal same-sex marriage, expand medical marijuana laws, endorse a taxpayers’ bill of rights and repeal the school consolidation law.
Shortly before the November election, Cox said, Terrill moved to Newburgh after having lived in Dixmont for many years.
“He went to the Newburgh town office to register his vehicle, and town officials said that as long he was there he might as well vote,” Cox said. “He voted there without giving too much thought to it.”
Cox said his client voted in Dixmont before he went to Newburgh on Election Day.
“There’s no evidence it was planned,” Cox said.
New software installed over the past five years in the Secretary of State’s Office, which is responsible for overseeing elections, make it easier to track voter fraud, Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn said Thursday.
Congress passed and funded the Help America Vote Act after the voting problems in the 2000 presidential election, Flynn said. The law required states to create statewide, central voter registration databases. It was implemented in Maine by May 2007.
“Before this central system, every municipality in Maine had paper voter registration cards, and they may or may not have had a computerized voter list,” she said. “The paper documents still are used, but we also had some software designed to capture all that same information in a Web-based application.”
Flynn’s office investigates instances of suspected double voting. She said Thursday that most often her office concludes that people have not actually voted more than once, but human error indicated that they might have. Often voters with the same names and birth dates were confused or men who are juniors and seniors were mixed up by poll workers. She said that her office cannot discover until after Election Day who might have voted in more than one municipality.
Suspected cases of voter fraud are passed on to the Attorney General’s Office for further investigation, as was Terrill’s, she said.
If convicted of the Class C felony of voting twice, Terrill faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. If convicted of the Class D misdemeanor of making a false statement or false oath, he faces up to a year behind bars and a fine of up to $2,000.