AG to pursue civil charges in Chattooga election fraud case
Georgia’s attorney general will pursue civil charges in an alleged election fraud case involving former Chattooga County State Court judge Carlton Vines.
A jury in Summerville couldn’t reach a decision in April on criminal charges that Vines conspired to fix a 2006 election. Vines resigned in exchange for prosecutors’ promise not to retry the case.
The State Election Board on Thursday voted to turn over its investigation to the attorney general. The board had previously expressed outrage at the findings, and member Randy Evans indicated a civil fine of $100,000 was possible.
The board’s latest action allowed the release of an investigative summary prepared by Shawn LaGrua, inspector general for Secretary of State Karen Handel, who oversees elections in Georgia.
Volunteers working for Vines signed voters’ names on absentee ballot applications and completed ballots for them, often without their knowledge or consent, the investigation found. Nineteen completed ballots were later delivered to Vines’ office, where a secretary applied postage and sent them to the election office. Some ballots were delivered directly to Vines.
Vines told campaign workers that absentee ballots would be the difference in the election, according to the investigative summary. Vines, who ran about 150 votes behind before absentees were counted, won by about 200 votes.
Chattooga County Republican Party members complained to the election board after comparing voters’ signatures to the ones on their ballot applications.