Voter punished for ineligibility

Published 9:35 am Tuesday, September 3, 2013

AUSTIN — The third ineligible voter charged with a felony for attempting to vote in last fall’s elections has been sentenced.

Jacob Awuol Barac, 34, was sentenced to five years of supervised probation and 40 hours of community service last Friday in Mower County District Court. However, Barac received a stay of adjudication, so he was not convicted of the felony charge of knowingly voting as an ineligible voter.

Brothers William and Braulio Manzano, 29 and 27 respectively, both of Austin, pleaded not guilty earlier this year to the same charge. Their cases were dismissed in March.

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According to the court complaints, all three men checked the box on the voter application that indicates one is not a U.S. citizen. However, all men continued to fill out their applications and signed the portion that indicates they are citizens who can vote, and that providing false information is a felony offense punishable by up to five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Police spoke with the Manzanos, who both admitted they are not naturalized citizens but have permanent resident status with Minnesota identification cards. Braulio admitted to voting, according to the court complaint, because he didn’t understand the application and didn’t know he had to be a naturalized citizen to vote.

On the other hand, Barac — also a permanent resident with a Minnesota ID but not a naturalized citizen — tried to vote for another person. He told police he filled out the registration so his roommate could use his ballot to vote but filled in the ballot himself. In April, he changed his plea to guilty in court.