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Montana man sentenced for falsifying voter registration

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BOZEMAN — A Montana man has been given a six-month suspended jail sentence for submitting a voter registration application under the name Miguel Raton, a rough Spanish translation of Mickey Mouse.

Michael Winters of Gallatin County pleaded guilty Tuesday to falsifying information on voter registration application in early 2020, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported.

District Judge Peter Ohman also fined Winters $250 and ordered him to complete 100 hours of community service.

"This was a serious offense and, obviously, with all that's going on with elections now and election integrity, this is something that is obviously front and center," Ohman said Tuesday. "Based on the involvement of law enforcement and the County Attorney's office, really what happened here is, it demonstrated that the system does work."

Winters, who was initially charged with felony tampering with public records or information, acknowledged he combined his driver's license number and Mickey Mouse's birthday to submit a voter registration form in January 2020.

Someone filed a complaint against Winters with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission in June 2020, court records said. That person told investigators that Winters had talked about how easy it would be to commit voter fraud.

An FBI investigation found ballots that were issued to Miguel Raton were provisional because the driver's license number belonged to someone who lived in Missoula. Winters has said that was unintentional.

Winters received ballots for two elections under the name of Miguel Raton. Elections officials say he did not vote in either of them.

Winters told an FBI agent he pinned the ballots to the wall of his shop as "trophies." The agent took the ballots.

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