A Mexican national, Roberto Hernandez-Cuarenta, was convicted on Monday for illegally casting votes in the 2012 and 2016 elections. A legal resident of the United States and a native of Mexico, Hernandez-Cuarenta was sentenced to four months in prison on two counts of voting by alien. He is a resident of Wake County, North Carolina. Because he is not a U.S. citizen, Hernandez-Cuarenta is ineligible to cast ballots in U.S. elections.
Hernandez-Cuarenta, "knowing he was not a United States citizen, did knowingly vote in two elections held in part for the purpose of electing a candidate for the Office of President, Vice President, and Member of the House of Representative," declared prosecutors in the case. Hernandez-Cuarenta cast votes for the office of president, vice president and U.S. House of Representatives,
"The right to vote is a precious privilege available only to citizens of the United States," said Robert J. Higdon Jr., United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina. "When a non-citizen votes in a federal election it serves to dilute and devalue the vote of American citizens and places the decision-making authority of the American electorate in the hands of those who have no right to make those choices." President Trump appointed Higdon to the post in October 2017.
Hernandez-Cuarenta was sentenced to time served on both counts which is four months of imprisonment.
Because Hernandez-Cuarenta’s party affiliation was not used during court proceedings, federal, state and local officials will not reveal it to the public. It was not clear how the prosecutors could win a conviction without entering into evidence Hernandez-Cuarenta's voting record. Voters in North Carolina can be registered as a Democrat, Green Party, Libertarian, Republican, or unaffiliated. The political affiliation of a registered voter is a public record in North Carolina. Voter registry officials in Nash County claim that they cannot find Hernandez-Cuarenta’s voting record.
Hernandez-Cuarenta is a seasonal farm worker with legal and permanent resident status who was granted a Special Agricultural Worker application in June 1992. Keeping a tight lid on the case, U.S. Magistrate Kimberly Swank ordered the preliminary findings in Hernandez-Cuarenta's case to be sealed, following a motion by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Voting by felons
Under plea deals, five felons under probation in North Carolina had felony charges dropped after being accused of illegal voting in the 2016 election. In Alamance County, those five entered Alford pleas to misdemeanor obstruction of justice charges, according to the Southern Coalition on Social Justice, and acknowledged that prosecutors have enough evidence to win conviction on a given charge.
The five persons in question had faced felony charges of voting while serving probation. In the state of North Carolina, convicted felons are required to complete any probation or parole before voting rights are restored. The Southern Coalition on Social Justice stated that the plea deals allow the convicts to avoid the sentences they would have served in prison if they had been convicted of the voting charges. According to a state audit, 441 felons voted unlawfully in the 2016 elections before having that right restored. More than two-thirds were black.