Augusta elections officials to scruntinize vacant lot voters

Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012 8:16 PM
Last updated Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012 1:43 AM
  • Follow Elections

Richmond County elections officials are investigating a group of voters who don’t appear to live where they are registered.

At a meeting Friday night, board of elections members gave Executive Director Lynn Bailey a green light to scrutinize a list of voters whose addresses appear to be vacant lots or abandoned houses. Bailey said she will present a full report on her findings at the board’s January meeting, along with a plan of action on how to address the issue and improve the county voting rolls’ accuracy.

The board’s action was prompted by stories in The Augusta Chronicle that uncovered dozens of voters with ineligible addresses – some at vacant lots and others registered at business addresses.

The Chronicle shared its findings with Bailey, who began some initial inquiries this past week.

Bailey told board members that she was able to confirm that several of the voters on the Chronicle’s list were registered and voted from addresses that turned out to be vacant lots. She said a few of those voters have updated their addresses in recent months, but most have not.

One voter was stopped at the polls Tuesday and asked to update his address before casting a ballot in the runoff election for District 1 commissioner, Bailey told the board.

She said the voter declined to update his information and cast a provisional ballot instead.

“That address we have, in fact, been able to determine that is a vacant lot,” she said. “He did not avail himself of the opportunity to provide correct address information.”

Board members voted to reject the ballot based on the ineligible address before certifying the election results.

Bailey said the newspaper’s articles uncovered problems she wasn’t really aware of, but also gave her ideas about how the issue could be addressed.

“This has started a very interesting conversation with the code enforcement people and others about how we can use the data that exists to look into this,” she said.

The Chronicle’s investigation used Augusta government databases and matched them with voter registration data to find lists of voters with suspect addresses. Checks of the addresses found some registered at vacant lots and others who used a business address to vote. Georgia law requires voters to register at their place of residence.

Some of the voters interviewed by The Chronicle admitted to living in other counties or even outside the state.

Bailey said that during the past week she sought out more resources, lists of houses scheduled to be demolished by the city and information from developers in the Laney-Walker/Bethlehem areas, which have a high proportion of empty lots and boarded-up properties. She has since found more voters with questionable addresses.

Board member L.C. Myles said he is confident there is a way to use existing city property data to build a system that will screen ineligible addresses when people register to vote.

Myles said the trick is managing it and keeping it up to date so that when buildings are torn down or new ones are constructed, the information is reflected in the data.

“In January I am going to have a plan to put in place so we can handle this issue moving forward next year,” Bailey said.

Voters whose addresses are determined to be invalid, including those who registered at business addresses, will likely face a challenge before the board.

Voters can be stricken from the rolls, or if there appears to be an intent to defraud, their cases can be forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office, officials said.

“The law is very specific in how the board of elections can proceed in these matters,” Bailey said.

Comments (22) Add comment
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Little Lamb
47986
Points
Little Lamb 12/08/12 - 11:37 pm
5
2
Maybe . . .

. . . Bill Fennoy did not win the run-off fair and square.

Tullie
2930
Points
Tullie 12/09/12 - 05:09 am
12
0
Bailey said:

Bailey said the newspaper’s articles uncovered problems she wasn’t really aware of, but also gave her ideas about how the issue could be addressed.

Board member L.C. Myles said he is confident there is a way to use existing city property data to build a system that will screen ineligible addresses when people register to vote.

So, they have not been doing anything all these years? It has to be brought to their attention by newspaper articles that people are using vacant addresses and business addresses? They never thought about this?

Jane18
12332
Points
Jane18 12/09/12 - 05:44 am
8
1
Dirty Politicians!

Too little, too late! Everyone knows this has being going on for some time......................

southern2
7087
Points
southern2 12/09/12 - 06:11 am
10
1
Tip of the iceberg!!!

Tip of the iceberg!!! Discouraged that these thieves have stolen my sacred vote.

Riverman1
90653
Points
Riverman1 12/09/12 - 06:20 am
11
4
What Prompted Chronicle Investigation?

I’m interested in what prompted the Chronicle to begin such an investigation? Results of elections? What you will find is lots of poor, homeless or nearly homeless people who bounce around from one address to another in Augusta being encouraged by the Democrats to vote. Some of these people continue to list addresses where they lived decades ago. It’s a cultural feature. It’s an Augusta feature. They are not illegal voters, voting more than once. Heck, it’s hard enough to get people to vote once, much less twice.

InChristLove
22481
Points
InChristLove 12/09/12 - 07:55 am
5
1
Techfan (6:07am

Techfan (6:07am comment).....if you would do some light research you would find a link within the false article you linked to, in your comment, and prevented the appearance that you purposely wish to post lying junk (or were you hoping no one would look further). Take the time to read the article where the Town Clerk was questioned and it appears Mr. Romney has legally voted.

http://belmont.patch.com/articles/did-mitt-commit-voter-fraud-town-clerk...

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 12/09/12 - 08:02 am
9
0
477 votes got us Roundtree

Sure I am ticked off that the Board of Elections has not been doing its duties of gleaning the voter rolls for mistakes.

Sure I am ticked off that many of us have been complaining, for many of the elections, that this was going on and got ZERO results.

Augusta is a small town and we might have as many as 1,000+/- such cases.

Now, think of the possible numbers in cities like Atlanta, Chicago, NYC, Detroit, LA, SF, St. Louis, etc...

Its enough to get a sheriff or a president elected.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 12/09/12 - 08:40 am
8
0
Do we have a Shadow Army of Voters?

The reporter Steve Crawford is to be commended for doing some good old fashion journalistic leg work.

I fear he may out grow Augusta and we will lose a good reporter.

-------------

I guess the next few questions are:

Was this an individual thing or a organized effort?

Will there be criminal charges? (voter fraud is a serious crime)

Will the Board of Elections finally start doing a better job, in protecting the Vote?

When will the voting registration data be crossed checked with other County & State Databases and their info?

With these new GA ID's and the pain we all have to go through to verify Who, When and Where we live type data. A simple, quick cross check and realistically possible.

So why not start doing it?

Like I said before. If you are voting, you are filing a GA. tax Return. Use the data.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 12/09/12 - 09:27 am
0
0
You just can't
Unpublished

trust conservative, white males to use their correct home address. I wish I could be more like the kennedy's; untrustworthy, philandering, lying pieces of crap.

allhans
24520
Points
allhans 12/09/12 - 11:36 am
7
0
The time to check is at the

The time to check is at the time of registration. Before entering the person onto the computer roles, the address should be verified.
Also, when a party goes to his poll he has to show photo ID listing the address in the computer. If this is not done and verified then blame the polling site manager, the correct way should be to have them use a paper ballot so it can be checked later..

soapy_725
43949
Points
soapy_725 12/09/12 - 11:42 am
0
0
Commend Steve or Billy?
Unpublished

We would posture that nothing is printed in the AC without the approval of Mr. Billy. If we were Mr. Billy, that would definitely be the case. Whatever sells newsprint to an ignorant and apathetic populace.

Local news in ARC is like the plains of Mars. Something to talk about. Another waste of money. Another distraction from a decaying society.

TrulyWorried
16067
Points
TrulyWorried 12/09/12 - 05:00 pm
4
0
Voting dilemma

and how will they contact the people that used incorrect or non-existent addresses? Where do they really live????

allhans
24520
Points
allhans 12/09/12 - 05:58 pm
5
0
TrulyWorried..I hope they

TrulyWorried..I hope they remove the names from their records.

Some names have a note to the poll worker to verify address before they are issued a ballot.

scgator
1042
Points
scgator 12/09/12 - 06:10 pm
4
0
It REALLY is simple............

REQUIRE that every voter sign in with their driver's license; it has a magnetic strip that can be read, then irregardless of where they claim they live, the ACCURATE address will be documented with the DMV, it will save lots of labor and the database is already in place. It would be simple at the polls, walk in the door, slide your ID through the scanner and proceed with the voting process. It is a simple thing to cross reference the city database for properties that are listed as vacant or abandoned............in fact almost any 2nd year computer science major could easily write a "patch" program that would tie the two databases together.

just an opinion
2840
Points
just an opinion 12/09/12 - 07:08 pm
5
0
It's voter fraud.

Mrs. Bailey, you and your capable staff need to identify these criminals and turn them over to the DA's office as soon as possible. It's your duty.

Little Lamb
47986
Points
Little Lamb 12/09/12 - 07:10 pm
1
1
Registration

Allhans is correct. Right now, just about anyone can register anyone else. Thus, people can register several times as long as they use different addresses.

I wish the General Assemblies in all our states would set up a system whereby only full-time employees of the Board of Elections can register people to vote. Potential registrants must be required to show proof of citizenship, proof of residence, and proof that their civil rights have not been rescinded because of convictions of crimes. These proofs must be done in person at locations established by the Board of Elections.

A trickier issue would be comparing databases across state lines. How difficult would it be to register both in New Jersey and Florida if you have homes (or apartments) in both states?

Riverman1
90653
Points
Riverman1 12/10/12 - 08:00 am
3
0
There are lots of voters who

There are lots of voters who live in nursing homes and their relatives vote for them. Often times these nursing home residents are mentally incompetent. The nursing homes encourage them to register and have a procedure to make the process easier.

Jane18
12332
Points
Jane18 12/10/12 - 08:31 am
3
1
"NEWS FLASH"

How long is this going to be investigated? How long will the AC follow this? I am afraid just like every other "news flash", this too will be forgotten by authorities and media. Just think back to all the headline news we've had, and after a few days, weeks, it's gone...and forgotten(that's what government likes, for us to forget..and we do!!).

Young Fred
19389
Points
Young Fred 12/10/12 - 09:22 am
2
0
Riverman1 8am comment

You don't have a problem with that?

Little Lamb
47986
Points
Little Lamb 12/10/12 - 09:48 am
2
1
Just Imagine

Just imagine how many voters are registered at 402 11th Street.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 12/10/12 - 11:55 am
3
0
Officials to look at vacant lot voters

as the headline teaser read.

But shouldn't it be:

"Officials to look FOR vacant lot voters"

CobaltGeorge
170476
Points
CobaltGeorge 12/10/12 - 12:44 pm
0
0
I Posted This Before

When I voted on the 6th, I noticed my brother's name was the next one under mine.....He has been living in FL for the past 4 years!

This is in Columbia County.

I wonder how many more on the list falls in the same category?

Riverman1
90653
Points
Riverman1 12/10/12 - 01:16 pm
2
0
Young Fred, sure I have a

Young Fred, sure I have a problem with incompetent people of all kinds voting. We should go back to a literacy test, but we know that will never happen. But with these people not having valid addresses, I'm trying to be fair about it. Like I said they often use old addresses, etc. On the other hand, there are many in nursing homes who shouldn't be allowed to vote, yet their relatives get their ballots.

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