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Dying To Vote: CBS4 Investigation Finds Woman Charged With Casting Dead Father's Ballot

GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4) - Felony charges have been filed against a Golden-based certified public accountant for twice voting for her father, who passed away in 2012.

Toni Lee Newbill
Toni Lee Newbill (credit: CBS)

In October prosecutors filed two felony forgery charges against Toni Lee Newbill, charging her with first voting for her father in a 2013 general election and then again casting a ballot for her father in a 2016 Republican primary election.

Her father, Ralph Nanninga, died in 2012 in El Paso County at the age of 86.

Ralph Nanninga
Ralph Nanninga (credit: CBS)

"It certainly wasn't the best decision on her part but it was an act of outright frustration," said her attorney Chris Samuelson. He explained that after her father's death, Newbill kept receiving ballots intended for her father -- a registered Republican -- and that she attempted to have him removed from active voter rolls.

"She received numerous ballots. She shredded some, she threw some away, she wrote on envelopes and mailed them back," Samuelson said.

But Samuelson said when she could not get her father's name off the voter rolls, she became exasperated and voted for him.

"She did not intend to commit a crime, she did not intend to cast a ballot, she was just trying to get their attention."

In January 2015, the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder sent Newbill a form to have her deceased father removed from voting rolls. It's unclear if Newbill completed and returned the form.

Toni Lee Newbill
Toni Lee Newbill (credit: CBS)

Newbill's father joins a list of half a dozen dead Colorado voters identified in an ongoing CBS4 Investigation as having cast ballots, and another dozen Colorado voters who have been found to have voted twice in the same election.

Gov. John Hickenlooper suggested why some Coloradans are attempting to circumvent the system.

"Both candidates have anger directed toward them and that anger makes people take the law into their own hands. These are individuals who are so inflamed they break the law. They feel so passionately that the ends justify the means even if they break the law. They're justified because they can't stand the alternative."

Gov. John Hickenlooper
John Hickenlooper (credit: CBS)

Hickenlooper went on to point out that the number of people trying to "game" the system is small when compared to the millions who vote. Still, he says, "Every county clerk should be looking -- we should be taking this seriously. They can find no indication anyone is organizing this criminal behavior."

Denver elections director Amber McReynolds told CBS4 her agency has multiple safeguards and processes in place to make sure the election is accurate, secure, transparent and accountable.

Amber McReynolds
Amber McReynolds (credit: CBS)

She says it would be very hard to cheat on a mass scale.

"In terms of the number of votes being cast over all these years, it is a small number comparatively, but to us it's significant because we strive for perfection."

Other election officials have also said while any fraudulent ballots being cast are problematic, the number is small compared the number of votes counted.

Toni Newbill -- who most recently was registered as a Republican, had previously been registered as a Democrat. She is scheduled to appear in court in El Paso County later this month.

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