A former legislative candidate is facing criminal charges for requesting absentee ballots in the names of recently-deceased voters.
The charges against Carlos Villanueva, once a Democratic candidate for Senate, came down as a grand jury indictment Thursday from the Bernalillo County District Attorney.
Villanueva faces eight charges in Second Judicial Court in Bernalillo, including three counts of unlawful absentee ballot application, three counts of unlawful possession of an absentee ballot and one count of perjury.
The charges come from just ahead of the 2014 elections, between Oct. 23 and Nov. 3 of that year.
In the 2012 race, Villanueva lost to Jacob Candelaria in the Democratic primary by a large margin.
Villanueva told the Albuquerque Journal that he never intended to vote with the tickets and wanted to instead test the system.
That’s similar to the excuse of a Silver City Republican poll challenger in 2012 who said he attempted to vote twice because he was “testing the system to see if people could get away with voting twice” according to a 2012 report by the Las Cruces Sun-News (it is no longer available online).
That man, Marshall Fischer, was charged with one count of false voting. He was found not guilty in a jury trial.
Another high profile case of voter registration fraud also came in 2012, when a man registered his dog to vote. The man is also the husband of a former staffer of Heather Wilson’s 2012 U.S. Senate campaign.
That man, Thomas Tolbert, also said he was testing the system, though hewas never charged.
Candelaria doesn’t buy the argument that people should be allowed to test the system by breaking the law, or at least didn’t ahead of the 2015 legislative session.
“Let’s say that I am not terribly confident that my bank is keeping my money safe. So, I decide to go rob the bank to prove that it’s possible for the bank to be robbed,” Candelaria said. “Am I then immune from prosecution?”