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Not Guilty Verdict in Voter Fraud Trial

A Montrose woman has been found not guilty of perjury in a Lee County voter fraud trial that took just over 24 hours to complete.

It took the jury of 6 men/6 women roughly 30 minutes to return the unanimous verdict in favor of Kelli Jo Griffin, 40.

Griffin says she decided to vote in last fall's city election in Montrose to show her step-daughter about the voting process.

Griffin is a convicted felon, though, whose voting rights had not been restored when she cast her ballot.

She testified Wednesday afternoon that she thought they had been restored automatically for completing her five-year probation term in early 2013.

Griffin was placed on probation in early 2008 after a felony drug conviction in Henry County.

The state tried to paint a different picture of Griffin, accusing her of lying about being a felon on her voter registration form as part of a grand scheme to hide her troubled past.

"Once a criminal, most people think that you are always a criminal and that you can't change," says Griffin.  "I believe that people can change.  I hope that this will show people, other people believe that you can change your life around and become a better person."

Lee County Attorney Mike Short represented the state in this case.  He says bringing it was the right decision.

Short says it came down to what Griffin knew about her voting rights.

Griffin faced up to five years in prison if convicted.

This was the first case to go to trial in connection with Iowa’s two-year investigation into voter fraud.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.