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Felony charge: St. Cloud man illegally applied for absentee ballot, then threw it out without voting

29December 2021

Five people have been charged in Stearns County this week with felonies for various forms of voter fraud, among them a St. Cloud man on probation who applied to receive an absentee ballot for the 2020 general election but threw it out.

Bradley A. Haugen, 44, was charged Tuesday in Stearns County District Court with intentionally making a false or untrue statement on an absentee ballot application.

Haugen was convicted of a felony in 2018 for cashing hundreds of dollars worth of bad checks at the gas station where worked and was sentenced to five years’ probation, a term that does not expire until October 2023, meaning his voting rights were taken away.

Haugen could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday. His attorney in the financial fraud case, Caroline Field, said, “He didn’t cast it, so who cares?”

This is the first time the Stearns County Attorney’s Office has prosecuted an ineligible voter for merely applying for an absentee ballot, according to court records.

According to the criminal complaint:

In early June 2020, election officials received an absentee ballot application signed by Haugen. The form included that the applicant is certifying his eligibility to vote, including if “convicted of a felony, my felony sentence has expired or I have been discharged from my sentence.”

Haugen told an investigator that he was aware that he was ineligible to vote but also said “he had thrown the ballot away and never voted,” the complaint read.

The investigator confirmed with county elections staff that Haugen never submitted his ballot.

Felony charges were also filed Tuesday in Stearns County against four other people alleging voter fraud:

  • Hassan Abdulkadir, 28, and Calia Bynum, 24, both of St. Cloud, allegedly voted in person illegally on Nov. 3. Both said they were unaware that being on probation for a felony conviction prevented them from voting, read the charges in each case.
  • Sarah Nesenson, 42, of St. Cloud, while on probation for a felony drug offense, sent in her voter registration application to election officials in April 2020, the charge against her read. She said it was possible that she requested an application but denied sending it in, the complaint continued.
  • Jill D. Kelley, 59, of Cold Spring, allegedly voted twice in the March 2020 primary, once by absentee and again in person. Kelley acknowledged voting absentee but denied showing up at the polls and voting a second time, the complaint read.

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