Calling her a common criminal who abused her authority as a poll worker by violating the principle of “one person, one vote,” a judge sent Melowese Richardson to prison Wednesday for five years following her illegal voting conviction. “This is not a little thing. It’s not a minor thing. This is what our country’s based on – free elections,” Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Ruehlman told Richardson. In a case watched around the country, Richardson was a Hamilton County poll worker from 1998 until her arrest earlier this year when she was charged with eight counts of illegal voting. In May, she accepted a plea deal and was convicted of four counts in exchange for the other four being dismissed. She was convicted of voting twice in the 2012 election and voting three times – in 2008, 2011 and 2012 – for her sister, Montez Richardson, who has been in a coma since 2003.
Richardson told the judge she was bothered that Amy Searcy, the Board of Elections director, had criticized her moments before the sentencing. Richardson, 58, of Madisonville, said for years she helped register Democrats to vote but now was being persecuted despite her decades as a poll worker.
“I think the board has shown me nothing but total disrespect for the 30 years I’ve served them,” she told the judge. “I believe in the system and I’ve done nothing to harm the system or cause disgrace to President Obama.”
The conservative, outspoken judge responded with scathing comments, blasting Richardson for suggesting she was being prosecuted because she was a black Democrat helping a black Democratic presidential candidate.
“It has nothing to do with race. It has nothing to do with politics. It has nothing to do with disrespecting you. You did this to yourself,” Ruehlman told her.
“You’re very selfish, self-centered. I really believe President Obama, if he were asked about this today, he would be appalled. He would not want anybody to cheat to get elected.”