Elderly man possible target of I. D. theft, voter fraud - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Elderly man possible target of I. D. theft, voter fraud

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

There are some very unusual claims surfacing about voter fraud in Muscogee County and the Board of Elections said they've never seen a case quite like it. 

It's possible that someone may have assumed the identity of an elderly Columbus man and voted early on his behalf. 

This is a matter that has gained the attention of top investigators in the state and they are still working to get to the bottom of it.

The investigation is ongoing, but some details are clear.  Someone claiming to be William James Tate participated in early voting at the Columbus Baptist Association on Friday, October 19.  That voter presented a Georgia driver's license, was able to replicate the signature on that card, and was a man with a disability who needed assistance voting, just like the Tate who spoke to our news reporter. 

However, Tate claims the Friday voter was not him.  His wife backs up his story, saying that she never left his side on the day in question and there can be no misunderstanding about it. On Tuesday, when Tate attempted to vote at the Columbus Public Library, that's when questions began to be raised.

"I'm angry because an innocent man like my husband had to go through this and he had already gone through so much," said Nettie Tate, wife of William. "They were telling me they didn't know what had happened. I would think that [the perpetrator] was someone who knew what was going on in our life that day."

The director of elections and voter registration, Nancy Boren, said the matter is being reviewed and a final answer will be determined by November 9 at the latest.  She stated the facts of the case.

"Procedures were followed in this instance.  The voter who went on Friday had a photo I.D. with a name. The voter who went on Tuesday had a photo I.D. with a name. Both of them were driver's licenses," said Boren. "So, our staff followed procedures, the voters followed procedures, we just need to find out what exactly happened in between those two times."

William Tate marked one difference about the signatures.  He called attention to the Jr. suffix attached to his name by the Friday voter.  Tate says his official name ends with a ‘senior', not a ‘junior.'  Officials are trying to locate the woman who is on record as accompanying the Friday voter to the polls.  So far they have not succeeded in finding her.  They are not calling this a case of fraud until they are absolutely positive there isn't another explanation.

What bothers Nettie Tate the most is that if someone stole her husband's identity, that person had to know intimate details about his life, including the day that he would be released from a long stay in a hospital. The Friday date coincides with Tate's first day home after recovering from surgery.

Out of 18,000 voters who have participated in Muscogee County's early voting, making up 20% of those registered, this is the only case of potential fraud reported to the board.  Furthermore, this is the only case in memory that investigators have been at a loss to immediately explain.

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