Worker fined for helping residents vote

ATLANTA --- The State Election Board fined a Valdosta nursing home activity director Thursday for improperly assisting residents in registering and voting.

The board also learned that 71 percent of people casting a provisional ballot because they have no photo ID with them did not return to prove their identity so their votes could count.

The nursing home employee, Courtney Griener, of Lakehaven Nursing Home, acknowledged to the board that she had completed the paperwork for two residents to register to vote and completed absentee ballots for three residents. If convicted of intentionally trying to sway an election, her actions could have amounted to a felony.

But Ms. Griener was trying to carry out the wishes of the residents, including many who don't follow politics closely.

"You can have a voter who's completely unaware of anything about politics, and they can vote. They can say, 'I'm a Democrat. Put me down,' and they don't know anything," Ms. Giener said, choking up as she spoke.

She recounted how she tries to keep residents current on events in the news so they'll be prepared to vote, though she doesn't have much experience herself.

"I voted one time in my life. And I admit that I was wrong ... but I do apologize. But I was just trying to do the right thing," she said.

Board members individually complimented her for being concerned about helping people vote, but still fined her $1,000. They suggested she get the nursing home to pay it and said they would let her apply that to training fees so she can learn to legally aid voters.