PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – A Portsmouth woman convinced a jury of her peers she did not willfully commit voter fraud in the 2008 Presidential Election.
WAVY.com introduced you to Lisa White in March. She was convicted of a felony, and despite that, got a voter registration card, so she voted. The Portsmouth Voter Registrar’s Office also failed to red flag White at the polls.
Then police arrested her.
On Tuesday, White went to court, and within hours the big decision was made. WAVY.com asked her why she was crying: “Because it’s good, good to be over with,” White said right after receiving a “not guilty” verdict.
White was accused of voter fraud when she checked “No” on a voter registration application that asked whether she had ever been convicted of a felony. She checked “no,” but she had been convicted of a felony in 1988. White was unsure how it would go: “I didn’t know because so much negative stuff has been said, so I didn’t know, but in my heart, and in my faith, I knew I was doing right.”
In the end, she put her faith in a jury of 12 people that decided unanimously she did not commit voter fraud.
“The Commonwealth’s case was lacking because they did not prove the willful intention … of her voter fraud, said Juror C.J. Burns. He said the fact that it had been 20 years since the felony was committed did not matter. “No, it was the willful intention that wasn’t proved by the Commonwealth.”
The Commonwealth’s case hinged on the word “willful,” meaning done deliberately. White took the stand and told the jurors it wasn’t deliberate. She thought after seven years, the felony on her record goes away. She has since been employed by the U.S. Government and has security clearance. She made a mistake, and when arrested, she apologized for it.
“She was asked ‘have you ever been convicted of a felony?’ She very clearly checked that box ‘no.’” said Asstistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Morales. “At the end of the day, it’s have you ever been convicted of a felony? It is not that it went off your record at some point, but have you ever been convicted?”
WAVY.com first reported Lisa White’s story in March. She told us then she was innocent, and wanted to tell a jury even though five others like her agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor voter fraud. Not Lisa White, who remembers when she first called 10 On Your Side for help.
“Yes, I do … I didn’t know how it would turn out … I thank the jury very much,” she said.
“We respect the jury’s decision,” Morales said. “We understand why Ms. White wanted to take the route she took, and we respect that as well.”