Courts & the Law, Defending Democracy, News

Five of 12 Alamance residents charged with voter fraud take plea deals to lesser crimes

Five individuals from the “Alamance 12,” a group of North Carolinians accused felony voter fraud, have taken a plea deal to lesser charges, according to the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.

As part of the plea deals, Alamance County prosecutors dropped all felony voting-related charges for the five voters, who were represented by SCSJ. Anthony Haith, Neko Rogers, Whitney Brown, Keith Sellars and Willie Vinson Jr. each pleaded instead to a charge of misdemeanor obstruction of justice.

As part of the plea, the five individuals will each complete 24 hours of community service, be placed on unsupervised probation for 12 months and offer no admission of guilt to any voting-related charges, according to a Monday news release.

SCSJ released a statement afterward that its clients had to make a “hard decision.” It states they believe the law they were initially charged under was enacted in 1901 with an intent to discriminate against people of color and intimidate communities from voting.

“Such a law is unconstitutional,” the release states. “What happened in the courtroom today is nothing new, though. Far too often, people plead to lesser charges, even when justice is on their side, in order to avoid the possibility of facing time in prison, being separated from their families, losing their jobs, and disrupting their lives and the lives of those around them. Similar events happen every day in courtrooms across the country.

Our communities deserve better. No one should have to face the possibility of prison time for the act of casting a vote that they believed they were eligible to cast. These charges sought to punish people whose only intent was to participate in our democracy. All of the charges should have been dismissed and the law that led to these prosecutions should be deemed unconstitutional.”

Prosecutors charged 12 Alamance County voters with felony voter fraud because they were all on probation or parole for felony convictions at the time they voted in the 2016 presidential election.

It was not immediately clear if charges against the seven other individuals remained pending Monday or if they too took plea deals.

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