AG to investigate voter fraud

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 2, 2004

GREENSBORO – Attorney General Troy King is expected to launch a voter fraud

investigation in connection with last Tuesday municipal election.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Suzanne Webb said King’s office received an official complaint, the first step in opening an investigation.

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She did not reveal the name of the complainant, but said the office received a faxed complaint late in the day.

Mayoral candidate Vanessa Hill’s campaign has challenged more than 160 votes cast in the election, mostly absentee ballots she says were fraudulently cast.

“The attorney general’s chief investigator called me and he is going to call Vanessa later today. He has the information that was gathered and a complaint being prepared.

It is my belief that the upcoming run-off will be carefully scrutinized by investigators from the attorney general’s office,” said Pam Chism, director of the Friends of Hale County, a philanthropic group that supports various Hale County projects.

She has become active in the Hill campaign to end what she calls a cycle of fraud and misdeeds in the county’s elections.

“We’re having so many problems just doing the quality of life issues in the county, but something’s got to give,” she said. “Until people are held responsible for what they’ve done it won’t improve.”

Chism said she hoped a criminal investigation would set a standard for the county and its citizens.

“The chances of [voter fraud] happening again would be few and far between and people will see that things can change. It’s everywhere, but that doesn’t mean that it has to stay that way,” she said.

After the challenges to votes were filed last Tuesday, Greensboro City Clerk Lorrie Cook said the questionable ballots were forwarded to the district attorney’s office.

Assistant District Attorney Vangi Rose confirmed that the ballots were in her Greensboro office.

“Our first step is a basic request to the Board of Registrars to see if the names of those persons on the ballots are registered to vote in the City of Greensboro,” she said.

That request – really a list of names from the ballots – has been prepared but had been forwarded to the board on Wednesday, she said.

Webb said the attorney general’s office has a track record taking on election fraud issues.

“We have successfully prosecuted fraud cases [for a long time],” she said.

One such case involved Greensboro’s November 1995

special municipal election and resulted in the conviction of Aaron “Dudley” Evans.

“This case was one of a series of extremely important cases dealing with voter fraud brought by this office,” said then-Attorney General Bill Pryor.

Evans was convicted Aug. 19, 1998, of seven counts of casting illegal absentee ballots, seven counts of forging absentee ballot documents, and one count of possession of forged documents, according to the attorney general’s office.

Evans was convicted at trial and had the conviction overturned on appeal due to a technicality. The Alabama Supreme Court upheld the conviction and Evans served about three years before being paroled.