Nevada County judge to consider election fraud case
A woman accused of election fraud told an investigator she’d voted twice in the 2016 primary election, a Nevada County judge heard Tuesday.
However, Deidra Vrooman, 48, told that same investigator she didn’t realize the double vote was a crime.
Superior Court Judge Linda Sloven indicated after Vrooman’s Tuesday preliminary hearing that she’d advance her felony election fraud case toward trial, denying a request to dismiss the case or, alternatively, reduce it to a misdemeanor.
Sloven added that her decision was tentative, saying she wanted to consider the law before issuing a ruling on Thursday.
Arrested Nov. 30, Vrooman was released Tuesday on her own recognizance.
“There’s a reason that it is a felony,” Deputy District Attorney Casey Ayer said of Vrooman’s accusation. “We don’t know if this was an honest mistake. There’s no evidence of that.”
Tamara Zuromskis, Vrooman’s deputy public defender, said her client has no criminal record. Zuromskis said intent is required for the crime, which her client didn’t have.
“If you do this by accident, it is not a crime,” Zuromskis said. “If a person wants to commit election fraud, why would they just vote twice?”
The Secretary of State’s Office initiated the case against Vrooman after a check of the June 2016 election, testified Maryann Gillham, an investigator with that office.
Gillham said she began checking elections records in Alameda and Nevada counties after receiving the case.
According to those records, Vrooman in June 2015 registered to vote in Alameda County. That county mailed Vrooman a ballot on April 17, 2016.
On May 10, 2016, Vrooman registered to vote in Nevada County. The local elections office mailed her a ballot two days later, Gillham said.
Alameda County received Vrooman’s ballot on May 23, 2016. Nevada County got a ballot from her on June 6, the day before the election, the investigator added.
During her investigation Gillham in August 2017 contacted Vrooman, who agreed to meet her in Nevada County. However, Vrooman missed the meeting, leading Gillham to again call her, the investigator testified.
Gillham said she wanted to meet Vrooman in person to discuss the ballots and show them to her.
“She said, ‘Well, if this is regarding double voting’ — she did vote then,” Gillham said. “She did sign the ballots, so she didn’t need to see the ballots.”
Under questioning by Zuromskis, Gillham said Vrooman told her she didn’t know voting twice was illegal.
“‘I guess I did,’” Gillham said, summarizing Vrooman’s statement, “‘But I didn’t know it was illegal to do so.’”
Vrooman’s accusation is one of two election fraud cases the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office is currently prosecuting.
The second involves Celeste Anne Pechar, 60, of Nevada City. Authorities have accused her of casting ballots in Santa Clara and Nevada counties in the June 2016 election.
Pechar’s case remains pending.
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4239.
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