33 voters will face Richmond elections board to challenge

Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 11:08 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013 4:17 AM
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The Richmond County Board of Elections voted Monday to challenge the eligibility of 33 voters whose addresses of record are at businesses or vacant lots.

Executive Director Lynn Bailey presented members with two reports at the board’s monthly meeting: one that focuses on 32 voters who appeared to be registered at vacant lots and another list of 32 voters registered at known business addresses.

Most of these voters were discovered through an investigation by The Augusta Chronicle, which shared its findings with Bailey and the board.

Bailey explained that most of the voters on the vacant-lot list had updated their addresses to legitimate ones and that a few others were found to have structures on them owned by the Augusta Land Bank.

Bailey said her own efforts turned up six more voters who were registered at properties now used as parking lots by Augusta National Golf Club, one of which had since changed his address.

That left 12 voters from the vacant-lot list for the board to consider, she said.

“We have confirmed that there are no structures on these properties,” Bailey said.

She said she was still working to compare all voter addresses to those listed as vacant lots in the property database maintained by the Richmond County Tax Assessor’s Office. After an address is determined to be a vacant lot, it will be flagged in the voter registration files to prevent another person from registering there, she said.

Bailey said that with the large number of vacant and abandoned properties in the county, she expects there are more cases to be identified.

“The data is there,” she said. “We can do the comparison and probably find some more, quite frankly.”

As for the list of voters registered at business addresses, Bailey said it will be trickier to create a system to catch those because many people have business licenses at their home addresses.

“It will be worth it to ask the folks in Licensing and Inspections if there is a way to do that,” she said.

Of the 32 people on the list of business addresses, five had updated their address to their homes and two others, who live in South Carolina, had asked to be removed from the county voter rolls. She said the couple were registered in both states but did not appear to have voted twice in the same election.

There were also four people registered at a dentist’s office on Washington Road who were kept on the list of eligible voters because there was no concrete evidence they didn’t live there at least part of the time. Bai­ley said the family also has residences in Atlanta and Co­lum­bia
County but considered Au­gusta their home of record.

That left 21 voters from the business list for the board to consider, including a pair of restaurant owners who live in McDuffie County and another business owner who lives in Clarks Hill, S.C.

“If someone owns property in more than one place, is there anything wrong with them registering at their business address?” board member Chip Barbee asked.

According to Georgia law, there is, Bailey said.

“As far as Georgia law goes, your residence is where your habitat is fixed,” she said. “It’s where you lay your head.”

Board member Sherry Barnes moved that all 33 voters in question be sent letters notifying them that their registrations were being challenged and that they will have a hearing at the next board meeting, on Feb. 11. The motion was approved unanimously.

Bailey said the board can strike those voters from the rolls and if they determine some acted with intent to commit fraud, those cases can be forwarded to the Georgia secretary of state or the district attorney’s office.

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just an opinion
just an opinion 01/15/13 - 01:18 am
Voter fraud!

When does the DA get to issue the arrest warrants? You write down your address and sign the form every time you vote. "Updating" after you get caught should not be allowed. Ms. Wright, step in please.

Riverman1 01/15/13 - 05:55 am
Not So Fast

It’s actually very few voter registrations in question and the ones who actually voted are even fewer. This is about NOTHING. We are probably talking about less than 20 votes. It also appears to go both ways with probable Democrats and Republicans because of some using their business addresses. What I think happens is people who used to live at a certain address continue to use that address even if they have moved in with relatives or become homeless. That old address is the one that pops in their memory when they register even if some of those addresses are now empty because the house has been razed. That happens in most cities.

It was interesting that a lot was assumed about the four registrations from the dentist’s office in their favor, but not so much the other way. As the elections in Richmond County become razor thin between the two factions, some are looking for anything to cancel out a handful of votes on the other side. If anyone desires prosecutions for voter fraud over these cases, he better take a look around the country at the mega fraud the feds allow to go on and feel good about Richmond County.

OpenCurtain 01/15/13 - 08:25 am
just an opinion & Riverman1

Both have valid points.

J.A.O. - I also agree that every person "UNCOVERED SO FAR" should be investigated, charged as appropriate & fined if found voting twice or out of their living district.

Riverman1 - I also agree with you, the few infractions "UNCOVERED SO FAR" would have not changed the outcome of any elections.

Question & a Comment
Will a County Wide review of the voter roles be conducted as required by law? Or will only focused of certain areas or a sampling be done?

"As for the list of voters registered at business addresses, Bailey said it will be trickier to create a system to catch those because many people have business licenses at their home addresses."

Always Start Simple
Use the Zoning for the property as 1 filter.
If it is ZONED for C1 to C# etc.. a Business property, flag it and send out a registered signed receipt required letter, with letter to be signed under Penalty of Perjury warning along with an SASE. If the letter is not returned in 90 days suspend voter and send out a 2nd warning by general mail informing them of the temporary suspension until they either return the letter signed, or present themselves in person to explain or update their address.

Especially in these politically troubled times.

Overall the Richmond Board Of Elections did a great job in 2012, with their handling of the high turn out politically charged 2012 election. An they should be acknowledged for it as well.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 01/15/13 - 08:45 am
Charles Dickens

Dickens had a marvelous line in one of his books:

If the law supposes that, then the law is a [filtered word].

If I "lay my head," as Lynn Bailey said, in a residence in District 6, but I make my living at an auto repair shop which I own in District 1, I ought to be able to choose one of them as my voting district. Since my economic future is tied to the auto repair shop, it is entirely reasonable that I would want to vote in District 1 to try and protect my economic interests.

What's wrong with that?

soapy_725 01/15/13 - 09:28 am
Just vote and vote often. The law means nothing.

As for the RCBOE, what do taxpayers think the BOE employees do when their is no election. Twiddle their thumbs. To ask them to do their job is a joke. Maintaining an accurate qualified voter list is too much to ask. Yes it is in ARC.

I live in ARC Dist 1, but my business is in N. Augusta so I need to protect my interest in both places. Aitkens lived in Dist 1 but his financial interest were in S. Augusta. Where did he vote? ARC police work in ARC but live in CC. Where do they vote? Ludicrous discussion.

It is not who votes, but who counts the votes....Joseph Stalin

TK3 01/15/13 - 09:41 am
Graveyard voter mash

Course they don't look very hard. One proof of "life after death" is Richmond County graveyard voters.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 01/15/13 - 10:02 am
Lay Your Head

Suppose I own two residences, one in the Adirondack Mountains (where my family stays from May 16 through Nov. 15 — six months) and the other in Boca Raton (where my family stays from November 16 through May 15 — six months). I lay my head (Lynn Bailey's term) in both places. Shouldn't I be allowed to choose in which jurisdiction I vote?

Now, let's say I spend five months in one residence and seven months in the other. Shouldn't I still be allowed to choose?

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