SOS Investigating Senior Vote-Buying in Atlanta Election
Tess Hammock, a spokeswoman for Secretary Brad Raffensperger, confirmed the investigation is ongoing, but said she could provide no further details at this time until the investigation is complete.
APN has obtained photographs of two flyers that apparently were posted – one at Friendship Tower Apartments and one at Silvertree Seniors Atlanta Apartments.
“EARLY VOTING: FREE RIDES TO THE POLLS,” the flyers state. “Monday, April 8th & Tuesday April 9th 9:00am. Meet in Lobby.” So far, so good.
But then, the flyers take a disturbing turn. “Enter A chance to Win. Grand Prize: Rent Paid for May (up to $150.00). 2nd Prize: $25.00 Walmart Gift Card. 3rd Prize: $10.00 cash.”
The Friendship Tower flyer advises senior residents to contact Karen Ashley, Service Coordinator for the residence. The Silvertree flyer says to “PLEASE SIGN UP WITH STEPHANIE.” Stephanie Godfrey is the Service Coordinator for Silvertree.
The buying and selling of votes is a felony, per State of Georgia law.
O.C.G.A. 21-5-570 provides: “Any person who gives or receives, offers to give or receive, or participates in the giving or receiving of money or gifts for the purpose of registering as a voter, voting, or voting for a particular candidate in any primary or election shall be guilty of a felony.”
The flyer refers to the early voting period that occurred in the April 16, 2019 Run-off for Atlanta City Council District 3 Special Election.
In that election, Antonio Brown received more votes than Byron Amos. Brown receives 670 votes and Amos received 588.
APN observed Antonio Brown’s Campaign with a van of seniors on the first morning of early voting, Monday April 08, consistent with the rides to the polls event advertised in the flyer.
APN emailed a publicist for the Brown campaign with several questions and has not received a response.
Candidate Byron Amos, former Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education Member, told APN that neither he nor his campaign were behind the flyers.
“We’ve fed seniors, but we’ve never offered money. Our thing is, if you want to vote, give us a call,” Amos told APN.
Amos said he became aware of the flyers and directed his campaign to stay away from Friendship Tower because he said it had become a “toxic” environment.
Foris Webb, III, who is the Municipal Clerk and Elections Superintendent for the City of Atlanta, says that he received a complaint regarding the flyers, which he forwarded to Richard Barron, Director of the Fulton County Department Registration & Elections.
Barron forwarded the complaint to Secretary Raffensperger’s office, Webb told APN.
Webb said that he went to Friendship Tower to interview Ms. Karen Ashley and that she advised him at that time that the Secretary of State’s office had already been by to interview her.
Upon learning that, Webb withdrew his questions so as not to duplicate the state investigation, he said.
Karen Ashley says that she had planned to use her own money, that she was not aware of a similar flyer at another highrise, and that she did not end up giving the prizes because of the investigation.
When asked if the rides to the polls were being provided by Antonio Brown, she responded that the rides to the polls “weren’t necessarily for him.”
Ashley said she was concerned about the low turnout and wanted to encourage seniors to vote.
However, this does not seem to explain how there were two different flyers at two different highrises, with the same graphics and almost the same exact wording.
“Did Karen Ashley and the person at Silvertree share the same thought?” Amos asked.
“Hopefully, someone asks for footage as well,” Amos said.
APN reached out to Ms. Godfrey and has not received a response.
APN has reached out to a witness to confirm certain information, but has not been able to reach them to date. In addition, APN has reached out to another potential witness, but has not been able to reach them to date.
(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2019)
EDITOR’S NOTE: The author of this article was a candidate in the March 19, 2019 General Election that preceded the April 16 Run-off Election, as previously reported by APN.