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St. Paul city council member cleared in voting dispute

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A St. Paul city council member has been cleared of charges related to an incident when he helped a woman vote for him last year.

The Pioneer Press reported that the verdict written by a Ramsey County District Court judge found that Dai Thao translated for a Hmong woman with the "full knowledge" and support of election judges, and it wasn't until after the ballot was cast that he was told he could not help the voter in any way.

The verdict said the judges knew they had an obligation to ask Thao to leave rather than let him help than woman, but opted instead to utilize Thao's language skills.

Thao was charged in February with unlawfully marking a ballot, misconduct in or near polling places, and unlawful assistance of a voter. State law prohibits candidates from directly assisting voters, and he was running for mayor at the time.

Thao had maintained that the charges were unfair and that he was only trying to assist a disabled neighbor who did not speak English.

MPR News contributed to this report.