A judge said Thursday that a man accused of tampering with voting machines during the Colorado primary is mentally incompetent and lacks the capacity to continue judicial proceedings.
At the request of Richard Patton’s attorney and prosecutors, Judge William Alexander further ordered that the defendant be placed in outpatient mental health treatment with the expectation that he would recover sufficiently to stand trial.
After an expert evaluation, the judge ruled that Patton was mentally unfit.
For people accused of a crime to stand trial on charges, they must be able to understand the procedures and cooperate with their defense while having the ability to communicate with their attorneys.
Patton’s attorney requested the evaluation but details of why were not released. Prosecutors have not asked Patton to make a deal and the case will resume until he is declared mentally fit.
Patton was arrested on Nov. 3 and charged with tampering with voting equipment, which state lawmakers earlier this year commuted to up to three years in prison.
Previously it was a misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail.
According to his arrest affidavit, Patton appeared to vote in person on June 28, the last day of the primary.
Patton alarmed some poll workers when he asked them about the security guard at the polling place because of threats against him.
Investigators said a clerk walked Patton up to a voting machine, showed him how to use it, and the defendant filled out a marked ballot.
After Patton voted, a man went to clean the machine and found an error message indicating that a USB device had been detected, according to the affidavit.
Other poll workers said the machine’s security seal had been damaged or tampered with and a USB port had been removed, he said.
Patton denied wrongdoing in an interview with The Pueblo Chieftain newspaper in November.
He said he asked a poll worker for help when he went to vote because he has dyslexia and accused her of putting something in the machine.