Former Charlotte mayor Patrick Cannon found himself in court again today, four weeks after he was sentenced to prison for public corruption. This time, it was voter fraud.
Cannon has been on supervised release until his scheduled prison date of November 18th. But last week he cast a ballot in the election, which is illegal for a felon. Federal Judge Frank Whitney could revoke or restrict his release, or ask for fresh charges. Cannon told the judge he was not thinking.
“The only explanation I can give is the light simply didn’t go off on that day,” Cannon said. “It didn’t occur to me I was doing anything different from what I do ever year—cast my ballot.”
He apologized to the court and the community. Cannon’s attorney, James Ferguson, described his client as a model of good behavior, outside of the vote. Ferguson said Cannon, who lives in Ballantyne, calls his probation officer before crossing state lines to get gas in South Carolina.
Judge Whitney said he accepted that, but voting as a convicted felon with time to serve is a felony, and does not require intent.
In addition, Whitney called Cannon “probably the most sophisticated voter to ever appear before this court.”
“If anyone should have known, he should have known that he lost his right to vote,” said Whitney. “The court needs to do something to make sure Mr. Cannon and I don’t keep meeting like this.”
Whitney said it would be impractical and expensive to revoke Cannon’s supervised release and send him to prison immediately. It would require U.S. Marshals to transport him to his destination of the Federal Correctional institute in Morgantown, West Virginia outside of the usual prison bus schedule or for Mecklenburg County to put him in a more expensive prison for the next 12 days.
Whitney placed Cannon under house arrest — the former mayor will wear an electronic tracking anklet and be required to stay within his home — until he heads to prison.
The judge also ruled Cannon’s vote was invalid, saying it would save the county Board of Elections from having to schedule a hearing.