Melbourne man charged with voter fraud during general election

While auditing the votes from the 2012 general election, County Auditor Dawn Williams discovered something she has only seen in Marshall County once before: Someone had tried to fraudulently vote.

“It’s very, very infrequent that we have instances like this, but just because it is infrequent, doesn’t mean we don’t look for it,” Williams said.

Williams turned the information over to the Secretary of State’s Office who in turn gave the case to Iowa Department of Criminal Investigations. The DCI then charged Nickie Perkins, 53, of Melbourne, with voter fraud and election misconduct, both Class D felonies.

According to online court documents, Perkins was not allowed to vote due to felony drug charges he received in 2009.

Williams said the problem is not widespread. In fact, she said it is only the second such case since she became election director in 1988.

“Too many people sign things without reading,” she said.

The two charges arise from Perkins allegedly registering to vote then attempting to vote, landing him one charge for each.

The county strives to maintain a balance between deterring people from attempting to vote when they are ineligible and ensuring that eligible voters can do so easily, Williams said. The increase in resources for the election process has made voter fraud virtually non-existent.

“It’s proof that the system works, that our checks and balances are thorough,” she said.

Perkins made his initial appearance Monday. Court documents show that he will hire his own attorney. His preliminary hearing is set for 1 p.m. March 29. The court released Perkins on his own recognizance.

A Class D felony is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine ranging from $750 to $7,500.