The Orono town office is shown during election season in 2016. Credit: Nok-Noi Ricker / BDN

The Maine attorney general’s office charged a 19-year-old Orono woman with violating election laws after she allegedly used a former roommate’s absentee ballot to cast a vote in what state officials called “an extremely rare” type of fraud.

The new case was apparently motivated by “a personal dispute” rather than an effort “to influence the outcome of the election,” said Marc Malon, a spokesperson for Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey.

The woman, Alyssa Dau, was charged with two Class C felonies: voting in the name of another and forging the name of another on an absentee ballot return envelope. Each is punishable by up to 5 years incarceration and a $5,000 fine.

A woman of that name who studies at the University of Maine did not immediately respond to a Facebook message seeking comment, and other contact information was not available.

Town election officials in Orono caught the alleged violations before the ballot had been processed and alerted the secretary of state’s office, which relayed it to the attorney general for investigation, according to Malon.

“It is a serious crime in Maine to cast or attempt to cast an illegal vote, either absentee or in person,” Frey said. “My office will vigorously investigate and prosecute any allegations of election fraud.”

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said his office relies on technology such as a central registration system and a network of municipal election officials to prevent and detect voter fraud, which he called “extremely rare” in Maine.

Malon said state attorneys are aware of just one conviction here in the last 20 years for voting on another person’s ballot. In 2012, an Oakland man pleaded guilty to forgery after he cast ballots for his two adult children in the 2010 election. One of those children voted in person in Orono, where he was a student at the University of Maine and was unaware his father had cast a ballot in his name in Oakland.

The attorney general’s office estimated six or fewer cases of attempted dual-voting in the past decade.

Across the country, one researcher who has tried to count total instances of voter fraud, former U.S. Justice Department official Justin Levitt, was able to find just 31 credible cases between 2000 and 2014, out of more than 1 billion ballots cast during those years, according to a piece Levitt wrote in the Washington Post.

BDN writer Michael Shepherd contributed to this report.