Metro-East News

Election judge pleads not guilty to voter fraud in Madison County

The 88-year-old election judge accused of voter fraud has pleaded not guilty in Madison County Circuit Court.

Audrey R. Cook, 88, of Alton, is accused of sending in an absentee ballot in her late husband’s name. Cook was a Republican election judge in Madison County. She was charged a few days before the election with two felony counts of election fraud.

Cook and her husband, Vic Cook, served as election judges for many years. She said she knew how he wanted to vote, and after he died, she filled out and sent in his absentee ballot.

Cook pleaded not guilty before Madison County Circuit Judge Kyle Napp on Thursday, represented by attorney Don Weber. She was allowed to turn herself in and is free on a recognizance bond. Weber requested that Cook be permitted to travel outside the state as she waits for trial, and prosecutor Jennifer Mudge said she had no objection.

Cook faces two Class 3 felony charges, one relating to sending in a false ballot, and one for violation of the absentee ballot statute. Each count carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said earlier that the county clerk’s office carefully examines every absentee ballot, including checking the names against death records. That’s how they discovered that Vic Cook’s ballot had been sent after his death, Gibbons said.

Gibson said the absentee ballots are printed with reminders that submitting a ballot on behalf of someone else constitutes perjury. He said he did not know which candidates had been supported on the ballot.

Cook and her attorney declined to comment. She is due to appear in court in February.

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald