Tony Schinella, Patch, CONCORD, NH, 1/20/22
— A former PCV and Country Director, accused of illegally registering to vote in New Hampshire and voting, has chosen to fight the charges in court.
MaryKate Lowndes (Honduras 1989-91 & PC/W Staff of Hyannis, Massachusetts, faces four voter fraud charges in Rockingham County Superior Court — a single felony count of wrongful voting as well as two counts of misdemeanor wrongful voting and a single count of misusing an absentee ballot. She was indicted in September 2020, when she was living in Washington, D.C., and was a Peace Corps director.
Originally, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office filed seven charges against Lowndes including a felony voter fraud charge as well as two misusing absentee ballots and four voter fraud misdemeanor counts. On Sept. 18, 2020, one absentee ballot and two voter fraud charges were nolle prossed.
The charges stem from incidents in October 2016, when she was accused of registering to vote at a shopping center on Crystal Avenue in Derry, and from November 2018, when she was accused of applying for an absentee ballot and casting that ballot.
About a month after the charges were filed, mail from the court came back returned.
Lowndes then hired William Christie of Shaheen & Gordon, a well-known attorney who has represented Democrats in the past, including the New Hampshire Democratic Party when it sued over SB 3, a bill that attempted to tighten the state’s “domicile loophole” for voting. According to court documents, he filed an appearance for her in court and waived arraignment and extradition on Nov. 12, 2020. Arraignments were canceled twice in November and December 2020.
In January 2021, Lowndes requested a motion to continue and notified the court of new email addresses in March and May 2021. A speedy trial was requested in June 2021.
Jury selection was scheduled to begin in November 2021 with prosecutors filing a witness list in December 2021. But jury trials were placed on hold for January due to coronavirus cases surging in New Hampshire. Another jury selection meeting, scheduled for Jan. 31, was canceled and postponed until Sept. 12. A final pretrial hearing is slated for Aug. 25.
Sometime between the indictment and the latest court filings, Lowndes moved to Cape Cod.
After two public records requests, the Peace Corps confirmed she was employed between July 1996 and July 2001, and again between September 2015 and April 2021, when she retired at age 56. According to LinkedIn, she worked in the Dominican Republic during the Clinton Administration and as a country director in the Eastern Caribbean in her second stint with the organization. For more than seven years, she was the director of development and special initiatives for the Connecticut Commission on Children. At the time of her retirement from the Peace Corps, she was earning $167,000 annually.
Lowndes faces six to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. If she is convicted, she will lose any future ability to vote in New Hampshire.