State dusts off Dodge County election investigation

mlee@macon.comJune 10, 2014 

ATLANTA -- The Georgia State Election board wants state prosecutors to look at seven names in 2008 Dodge County voter fraud allegations, despite a plea deal that may have closed the case when it sent two of the people to prison.

State allegations vary among the seven people, including unlawful possession of ballots and vote buying in the 2008 general primary.

The board “cannot get out in front of a criminal investigation, which is what has been going on up to this point, so that is why we’re just now acting on these matters,” Secretary of State Brian Kemp said ahead of the unanimous vote.

In the 2010 plea deal, former Sheriff Lawton Douglas and Chief Deputy Olin Gibson agreed to serve time on 2004 federal felony vote-buying charges. In return, similar federal investigations into Douglas’ 2008 attempt at re-election were closed.

It’s not clear if the plea deal and the long time since the alleged 2008 infractions will affect what the state attorney general’s office can do, the office’s Russell Willard said at the hearing.

“That does not change my opinion about binding over” the case to the AG’s office, Kemp said.

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