Voting complaint filed with Mower County attorney

Published 7:17 pm Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Mapleview City Council member is eager for a sheriff’s investigation into a complaint that states he was in the polling location before doors opened on Election Day.

“I went in a little after 7 a.m., and there were already two people besides the election judges, one voting and the other registering to vote,” said Simon Hancock, the target of the complaint.

That is when Hancock talked to the election judge about Darin Finley’s eligibility to vote in Mapleview, he said.

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Several election judges from Mapleview and City Clerk Arthur Kuchera said Hancock was not in the polling room before polls opened but was in a separate office inside that same building.

Kris Finley, Darin’s ex-wife, filed the complaint with the Mower County Attorney on Friday, Nov. 9, saying Hancock was in the polling location and talking to an election judge before he should have been. She claims Hancock was trying to prevent Darin Finley from voting because of a belief that Darin is really a Blooming Prairie resident. However, Darin Finley says he has been living in Kris’ basement for several years, and the Finleys say he is eligible to vote in Mapleview. Kris Finley also filed a complaint against election judge Dorothy Nieman in which she claims Nieman badgered Kris and Darin and tried to prevent them from voting. Nieman would not comment about the situation.

Hancock is confident the complaint filed against him will backfire against the Finleys.

“I’m looking forward to the sheriff’s investigation because I think they’re going to find more stuff,” he said.

Hancock has fired back with a filed complaint of his own, alleging that the Finley home does not have egress windows. Therefore, if Darin is living in the basement, Kris may be violating the city fire code.

Mower County Auditor/Treasurer Doug Groh said the whole confusion with the voting incident points back to the need for tighter voting restrictions. Though he did not support imposing a voter ID amendment, he said Mapleview’s issue is an example of what could be happening in other locations.

“I would encourage our Legislature to revisit the idea of voter ID and tidying up some of these procedures, even though the constitutional amendment of voter ID was defeated,” he said.

Groh added both Darin Finley and Hancock are partially at fault as Finley should have had an ID showing a Mapleview address, and Hancock did not follow the proper challenge procedure. Groh said Hancock should have filled out an official challenge form and given it to the head election judge.

The sheriff’s office must complete its investigation and notify the county attorney if it finds any wrongdoing on either side in the case.