Issuance of fake voter ID cards is investigated

ATLANTA --- A temporary elections clerk with a good memory for faces foiled an alleged scheme to use fraudulent voter ID cards to cash stolen government checks.

 

On Wednesday, the State Elections Board heard details about its staff's investigation into the case and voted to suspend further action until any criminal investigations are complete.

"This is one of the most serious cases we've encountered in our investigation," said Shawn LaGrua, the inspector general for the secretary of state's office.

The clerk thought she recognized a woman who asked to be issued a free voter ID card in November 2007, but the name didn't seem right. After issuing the card, a records check after the woman left proved the same woman had received a card six months earlier under the name LaRae Shelton.

This might not be the first incident.

"In fact in Richmond County, there have been questions since the beginning of the issuing of voter ID cards why Richmond County has sometimes had a large number of voter ID cards (than) in the past," Ms. LaGrua said. "And we had some suspicions, and they were confirmed by this investigation."

Ms. LaGrua did not give the board evidence of other problems, and her spokesman, Matt Carrothers, declined to elaborate.

Andy Garner, an investigator on Ms. LaGrua's staff, and Richmond County sheriff's Investigator Michelle Walden interviewed Ms. Shelton, who told them she got the bogus card at her boyfriend's urging to cash a check stolen from Sherrie Andrade, who is registered to vote in Chatham County.

Ms. Andrade told the investigators a Social Security disability check had been stolen while she stayed at a motel on Gordon Highway.

In 2007, Richmond County issued 701 of the 4,229 voter ID cards issued statewide -- far out of proportion to its share of the state population.

Lynn Bailey, the executive director of the Richmond County Board of Elections, considers the Shelton case a one-time incident.

"We have no reason to believe there is anything widespread with this," she said Wednesday.