A woman who was arrested after voting twice for Donald Trump — and in the process became a flash point in the voter fraud debate — is incompetent to stand trial, her attorney said in a motion filed in Iowa court.
Terri Lynn Rote, 56, was accused in late October of casting two ballots in the general election: an early-voting ballot at the Polk County Election Office and another at a county satellite voting location, according to police records. Rote, a registered Republican, remains charged with first-degree election misconduct, and her felony case has been winding through Iowa courts.
But her court-appointed attorney, Jane White, filed a motion last week saying Rote has “cognitive limitations” and can’t stay focused for long periods — things that mean she wouldn’t be able to help prepare her defense, according to the Des Moines Register.
“It is unlikely that Defendant can assist in her defense or participate in the trial process,” White wrote. “It is unknown if the Defendant has been diagnosed previously with a mental health disorder, but her interactions with counsel indicate to counsel that this may be the case.”
The motion came days before the man Rote double-voted for announced in a series of tweets that he plans to ask for a “major investigation” into allegations of widespread voter fraud.
The president’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, sought to provide some clarity for Trump’s remarks Wednesday, according to The Washington Post’s Jenna Johnson and Matt Zapotosky.
Spicer said the president wants a “study” or “task force” to study the issue of fraud, especially in “bigger states,” Johnson and Zapotosky wrote. The probe would not just focus on the 2016 election, Spicer said.
Trump claimed in November, without evidence, that he lost the popular vote because millions of illegal votes were cast.
He has provided no documentation for his assertion about voter fraud.
And critics seized on the fact that one of the most highly publicized examples of voter fraud in the last election was a woman who voted for Trump — twice.
Rote told The Washington Post last year that she hadn’t planned on voting twice in Polk County but said her second ballot was “a spur-of-the-moment thing” when she walked by a satellite voting location.
“I don’t know what came over me,” she said.
She had supported Trump since early in his campaign, after Mike Huckabee dropped out of the Republican primary race.
Rote told an Iowa radio station that she believes “the polls are rigged” — a common Trump refrain in the closing weeks of the election. Rote said she feared that her first vote would be changed to a vote for Hillary Clinton.
Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald told the Register that it was the first time in 12 years he could remember having to report possible voter fraud.
“I think it shows that our voting system works in Iowa, that we’re able to catch it,” Fitzgerald told the paper.
A December analysis by The Post’s Philip Bump found just four documented cases of voter fraud out of about 136 million votes cast in the 2016 election.
Among them was Rote’s double-vote for Trump in Iowa.
There was also a man in Texas who voted twice, and a woman who cast a ballot on behalf of her dead husband, and another woman in Florida who marked absentee ballots.
The “four demonstrated examples of people committing voter fraud” accounted for 0.000002 percent of the ballots cast in the race for the White House — “if they counted, which they won’t,” Bump wrote, adding: “There is simply no evidence that fraudulent ballots played any significant role in the 2016 presidential election whatsoever.”