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Joint Investigation Started After Elections Officials Notice Registration Card Irregularities

MADERA — Madera County Registrar of Voters Rebecca Martinez and District Attorney Sally Moreno announced Friday (Oct. 18) that 12 felony counts have been filed against a Monterey County resident stemming from an alleged voter registration scheme during the 2018 Gubernatorial Election.

“In July of 2018, my office received several registration cards that were distributed by April Atilano, EVP 2018,” stated Martinez. “In August as my staff began processing the registration cards they noticed many irregularities with the cards and notified me of their findings.”

Election staff, trained to perform signature verification on vote-by-mail ballots, began noticing several discrepancies in the registration cards including missing or incorrect information and signatures that did not match the voter’s signature on file.

After bringing several to the attention of Martinez, the Registrar immediately ordered that all cards associated with Atilano or EVP be quarantined and that the affected voters be contacted to confirm intent. Many of the voters associated with the suspicious cards informed election officials that they had not attempted to re-register to vote and did not want to change their party affiliation as the cards had indicated.

“We collected all of the relevant information including copies of what we determined were fraudulent cards as well as copies of the voter’s genuine registration cards,” explained Martinez. “We then forwarded all of the information to the Secretary of State and the Madera County District Attorney for investigation.”

“Any time there is an allegation of voter fraud or an attempt to game the foundation of our democracy, we take it very seriously,” stated Sally Moreno, Madera County’s top prosecutor. “Our investigation unit, after reviewing the information from our local Registrar and the Secretary of State, conducted a criminal investigation.”

A copy of the criminal complaint filed in Madera County Superior Court charges Atilano with 12 felony counts of violating Section 18101 of the California Election Code. The complaint alleges that the defendant unlawfully, knowingly, and willfully completed or caused and procured the completion of, in whole or in part, an affidavit of registration and voter registration card, with the intent to cause the registration or re-registration as a voter of a fictitious person or of any person who has not requested registration or re-registration as a voter.

“We have filed 12 felony counts against Ms. Atilano and we intend to prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law,” said Moreno.

Atilano, whose address is in Monterey County, has been ordered to appear in court on the charges in November. If found guilty she faces up to ten years and four months in jail.

“We hold the sacred right to vote in high esteem and anyone who attempts to meddle with the voting process will be rooted out and held to answer for their acts,” Martinez and Moreno said in a joint statement. “Voters should know that the voting system in Madera County is not only transparent, fair and accurate but also protected from those who wish to interfere.”

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