The state Attorney General’s office has no timetable on when any action might be taken on an alleged voter fraud case in Chattooga County, spokesman Russ Willard said Friday.
An investigation of former Chattooga County Judge Carlton Vines and a handful of his campaign supporters was sent to the Georgia Attorney General’s Office “for
appropriate action,” the State Election Board decided Aug. 27.
Willard said there are several other cases already before the AG’s office, and furloughs are impacting how quickly cases can be handles.
The elections board’s action stems from alleged voter fraud in the 2006 state court judge election.
Willard said the case will be handled by an administrative law judge, who will send his findings back to the elections board, which will make the final recommendations.
Criminal charges against Vines were dropped earlier this year in exchange for his resignation and promise to never seek or accept judicial office again. In earlier proceedings that ended in a mistrial, several of his volunteers testified under immunity from prosecution.
State Elections Board Randy Evans said earlier that the immunities and agreement with Vines would not carry over to the administrative case.
Vines could face fines topping $100,000.
In addition to Vines, the board is looking into possible election law violations by the Chattooga County Board of Registrars; Albert C. Palmour; Canduis McCutchins; Sidney Johnson; Anthony Odell Sparks; Tommie Cheryl Eskew; Steve J. Chappelear; Dorothy Gilreath; and Lois Reed.
Penalties can range from a reprimand to a fine of as much as $5,000 per violation.
Absentee ballots put Vines in the state court judge seat ahead of opponent Samuel C. Finster in the 2006 election. After an investigation initiated by Secretary of State Karen Handel, Vines was charged with unlawful possession of ballots, conspiracy to commit election fraud and false swearing.
During the March trial, some campaign workers testified they gave voters absentee ballots and delivered at least some of the sealed ballots to Vines’ office for filing. Eighteen sequentially numbered ballots were mailed using a postage meter in Palmour’s office.
Finster was appointed by Gov. Sonny Perdue to take over Vines’ state court judgeship. The term expires in 2010.
ROME NEWS TRIBUNE