No charges for Olmsted County election judges investigated by police

(ABC 6 News) – The Olmsted County Attorney’s Office declined to charge two Olmsted County election judges who were investigated by the Rochester Police Department with any crimes, following a lengthy investigation.

RELATED: City of Rochester releases names of election judges under investigation – ABC 6 News –

Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem said Thursday that his office decided not to charge former Rochester election judges Margaret Sherman and Frederick Nolting with breaking election law because “proof beyond a reasonable doubt is a very high standard and the evidence would not meet that burden.”

According to an Oct. 26 Rochester police incident report obtained by ABC 6 News, former Byron City Administrator Mary Kathleen Blair-Hoeft reported two possible election law complaints to Rochester police on Oct. 24, some time after the August primary election.

According to Ostrem, Sherman was suspected of running a report off of a voting machine and taking a copy home.

She was investigated for allegedly violating Minnesota Statute 204C.06, Subd. 4a, which prohibits removing election materials, files, and registers from polling places, except as authorized by law.

Ostrem said Nolting was suspected of attempting to “break into the secure WiFi that the elections machines were connected to.”

Nolting was investigated for alleged violation of Minnesota Statute 204C.41, which concerns felonious conduct by election officers who fail to “safely keep and product ballots on election day…” or are “guilty of fraud, corruption, partiality or misbehavior in conducting or aiding in the conduct of an election.”

ABC 6 News previously spoke to a Rochester election judge, who said a group called Olmsted County Election Integrity instructed judges to disguise their smartphones as the polling location’s WiFi to privately collect data.

Roger Mueller of Olmsted County Election Integrity declined to comment to ABC 6 News.

Ostrem said the county attorney’s office also considered Minnesota Statute 609.43 in respect to both Sherman and Nolting, which prohibits public officers of employees from committing acts “in excess of lawful authority, or knowing it is forbidden by law to be done in that capacity.”

“As a matter of course, the election complaint is forwarded to me for review and if necessary, then to law enforcement for criminal investigations,” Ostrem said. “In both cases, the conduct occurred in the City of Rochester so RPD did the investigation. When complete, the reports were sent back to this office.  Ultimately, I determined charges were declined.”

ABC 6 News has filed further information requests with the City of Rochester and Olmsted County to learn more about the investigative process, as well as Sherman and Noltings’ ability to serve as election judges in the future.