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Ex-N. Ga. prosecutor fined, reprimanded in election case
By JIM WALLS
The State Election Board has fined a former north Georgia prosecutor for absentee-ballot violations, rejecting a judge’s recommendation to drop the charges for lack of evidence.
Albert Palmour of Summerville, now an attorney in private practice, was fined $18,000 last week and given a public reprimand for his alleged role in a 2006 election fraud case in Chattooga County. A summary of the decision and other action at the board’s Feb. 24 meeting in Macon was posted Monday on the board’s website.
The board had already fined former State Court Judge Carlton C. Vines $15,000 in the case. Palmour was accused of letting him use the postage meter in his law office to mail 18 absentee ballots, all cast for Vines, in the November 2006 election for State Court judge in Chattooga. Vines won that election on the strength of absentee ballots, which broke overwhelmingly in his favor.
The election board alleged that Palmour’s involvement constituted 18 separate violations of the law regarding unlawful possession of absentee ballots. Palmour did not dispute that Vines had used the postage meter, but administrative law judge Lois F. Oakley had ruled Dec. 16 that the board presented no evidence that Palmour ever had actual possession of the ballots:
“The Board’s contentions of election code violations by the Respondent fail on their face. Despite a case file replete with documentation, the Board’s allegations remain critically deficient in the omission of an assertion of the respondent’s possession of the eighteen (18) absentee ballots in question. Having failed to assert and establish the critical evidentiary connection, the Board did not meet its burden of proof.”
Vines resigned as State Court judge in 2009 after a criminal trial for alleged ballot-tampering ended in a hung jury. Palmour was not charged in that case.
Palmour, who testified in Vines’ trial, denied violating state election law. He refused to sign a May 2010 consent order with the Election Board in which other parties admitted blame.
Palmour stepped down as Chattooga County solicitor in 2004 so he could run for Vines’ seat on the State Court bench there. Vines, in turn, resigned the judgeship to run for Palmour’s vacated post. Then-Gov. Sonny Perdue foiled those plans by canceling the election and appointing replacements for both jobs, a decision later upheld by the Georgia Supreme Court.