WAHOO – The Saunders County Attorney’s Office has filed a complaint against Rochelle Buhrman of Leshara for illegal voting in the November 2018 General Election.
The Attorney’s Office released a statement Friday morning that a complaint was filed in Saunders County Court on Wednesday against Buhrman.
According to the statement, the County Election Commissioner received information from a voter after the 2018 General Election regarding potential illegal voting practices and an investigation was conducted by the Saunders County Attorney’s Office.
“Initiating this investigation was my first action upon taking office” Saunders County Attorney Joe Dobesh stated. “Voter fraud is a crime that should always be taken seriously, but it’s all the more troubling when the allegation is made in such a close race.”
The election for the Village of Leshara Board of Trustees was decided by a single vote. The Attorney’s Office reported no further information about this case will be forthcoming until the matter is resolved out of respect for Buhrman’s right to a fair trial.
Her arraignment is scheduled for 9 a.m. on July 25 in Saunders County Court.
Illegal Voting is a Class III Misdemeanor, which carries a possible penalty of three months of imprisonment and/or a $500 fine.
John Behler of Leshara, a candidate for the village board in November, was the one who contacted the election commissioner’s office.
He said Friday morning he was pleased that someone took him seriously and investigated. He said had also contacted the Secretary of State’s Office but was told it was a local matter.
“I am pleased that the local officials are at least interested in illegal voting in the state, since the Secretary of State’s Office seemed to ignore the entire situation,” he said.
Behler also alleges that illegal voting in Leshara had taken place in the 2016 election. He claimed he attended the village board meeting a month prior to the 2018 General Election meeting and made it known that he would be pursuing action if it happened again.
“Most people want fair voting. But a lot of people may not think what one or two votes can mean,” he said.
“It can make a really big difference, especially in a small village, in electing the people who will decide what the future will be.”
The Leshara Village Board race was one of several contested races in the county that had to go through a recount process after the November election. Behler, Mel Ruhe-Langelt and Miranda Moisant- Hlavac were all running for two open seats on the board.
The recount did not change the outcome. Ruhe-Langelt and Moisant-Hlavac were seated on the board as top vote getters, at 17 and 16 votes respectively. Behler received 15 votes.
Behler, who had been serving on the town’s planning commission but has since resigned, said he decided to run for the village board because he wanted to step up his role in town government and decision making.
“If I ran for a board position, I would have some standing to raise my hand. That’s why I ran for the board,” he said.
While he was pleased the County Attorney’s Office did investigate the November voter records, Behler said he will continue to make phone calls and contact organizations regarding what he feels is an unjust situation.
“I am still working on this,” he added.
Recently, the Village Board appointed new planning commission members, including Buhrman.
“It just seems dirty,” he said.