Non-citizens cited in Montana county voter registration case

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Two non U.S.-citizens who are accused of casting votes last year in a north-central Montana mayor’s race that was decided by two votes have been cited for allegedly signing fraudulent voter registration applications, prosecutors said Monday.

It’s unknown if the candidate who lost will seek to have the election held again.

Grace Albia and Jannet Zeta were cited on accusations they filled out voter registration applications in October saying they were U.S. citizens, Phillips County prosecutors said in a statement. They have work visas and are not allowed to to vote, the statement said.

Albia and Zeta moved to Dodson from the Philippines last summer to teach in the elementary school, according to the school district’s Facebook page. After the election, town residents complained that Albia and Zeta had voted, leading to the citations.

They have pleaded not guilty in Justice Court. A trial date has not been set. The misdemeanor charges are punishable by fines of up to $500 under state law.

Albia and Zeta did not immediately respond to requests for comment sent to their school email addresses on Monday. An attorney has not been appointed to represent them, county officials said.

Dodson is a town of about 125 people. Forty-one people voted in the November 2021 municipal election for mayor and city council.

The incumbent mayor, Angel Arocha, won by a 21-19 vote over Glenn Dolphay. There was one write-in vote. Dolphay did not respond to a voicemail seeking comment on whether he now plans to challenge the election result.

Albia and Zeta declined to tell investigating officials if anyone encouraged them to register and vote, according to the statement from prosecutors.