Suspect in Oct. 24 ‘white powder’ incident charged with election-center disruption

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WATERVILLE — Prosecutors leveled a little-known misdemeanor charge against the man suspected of inserting white powder into his ballot before returning it to the Douglas County Courthouse.

Howard Allen Lane, a 66-year-old Waterville man, must appear in court Dec. 17 on a charge of “committing a prohibited act in a voting center.” Prosecutors filed the charge Nov. 4t, two weeks after a ballot envelope allegedly sent by Lane spilled white powder when staff opened it in the Douglas County Auditor’s elections department.

Authorities evacuated the courthouse after the Oct. 24 incident and shut it down for a day and a half during the investigation, but the powder ultimately proved to be non-threatening. Douglas County sheriff’s deputies said Lane denied responsibility when arrested at his home Oct. 30, after investigators traced the ballot back to his address.

The state law on prohibited acts in a voting center covers almost any intentional act that would disrupt voting or elections, defining them as a gross misdemeanor. Lane must appear before a Douglas County District Court judge.