Atlanta – Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel today announced the resignation of former Chattooga County Judge Carlton Vines.

Vines was indicted September 5, 2008 on felony charges of illegal possession of absentee ballots, conspiracy to commit election fraud, and false swearing. The indictment followed a joint investigation by the Secretary of State’s Office and other agencies.

“Voter fraud undermines the integrity of our elections processes and the public’s trust, and will not be tolerated,” Handel said. “Carlton Vines’ resignation is a victory for Georgia’s election laws and Chattooga County voters.”

Pursuant to the consent order, Vines will resign his position as State Court Judge in Chattooga County effective May 1, 2009. Further, Vines agrees to not seek, request, or accept elected or appointed judicial office in the future.

Handel added, “I want to thank the cooperating law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and investigators in the Secretary of State’s Office of Inspector General for their invaluable assistance on this case.”

In 2007, Secretary Handel created the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office of Inspector General to add efficiency and professionalism to the investigations, inspections, and prosecutions processes. The Secretary of State’s Office of Inspector General oversees investigations of elections inaccuracies and fraud, investigations of securities brokers, and inspections of professional license holders