A man accused of tampering with a voting machine during the Colorado primary has been deemed incompetent and will not have to stand trial for his alleged crime at this time.
Richard Patton, 31, was arrested on November 3 for allegedly pulling a USB port out of a voting machine after threatening election workers.
The Associated Press reports that “according to his arrest affidavit, Patton showed up to vote in person on the last day of the primary election, June 28. He made some poll workers nervous after asking about what kind of security there was at the voting center because of threats that had been made against election workers. An election worker escorted Patton to a voting machine, showed him how to use it, and he was able to use it to fill out a ballot and print out a marked paper ballot to cast, investigators said.”
“After Patton voted, a person who went to clean the voting machine discovered an error message saying that a USB device had been detected, according to the affidavit. Other election workers said the security seal on the machine was either damaged or had been tampered with and a USB port pulled out, it said.”
On Thursday, Judge William Alexander ordered that Patton undergo outpatient mental health treatment.
Patton had been evaluated by a mental health professional who deemed that he is mentally incompetent.
The case will resume if he is found competent at a later date.
The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office recently enacted a new law making tampering with a voting machine a Class 5 felony punishable by a one- to two-year jail sentence and/or a fine between $1,000 and $100,000.
In an interview with The Pueblo Chieftain, Patton claimed that he is innocent and that the election worker was the one who tampered with the machine.
“I raised my hand and I said, ‘Ma’am, I’m dyslexic. Can you please help me? I can’t read well, I really need help,” Patton told the Chieftain. “She’s like, ‘I can’t help you read, but I can help you get this thing.’ Because I pointed to … the voting machine and I’m like, ‘Ma’am, I pressed the screen as you told me to do, and this red box came up. I don’t know what this is. I’m dyslexic. Can you please help me?’”
Patton claimed to the newspaper that the election worker told him she was “here to help” and then pulled “something out of her pocket and then inserts it into the machine and then messes with the sticker.”
The man claimed that he did not realize there was even an issue until the Pueblo Police SWAT unit knocked down his door.
“This is demonstrably false because I’m a jock. I’m basic. I like to weightlift. I don’t know anything about coding and I don’t intend to because, frankly, it’s pretty boring,” Patton said.