Mentally challenged man says his vote wasn't right - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Mentally challenged man says his vote wasn't right

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

October 14, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - There are allegations of voter fraud, as a Dougherty County family claims the vote of a mentally challenged relative was stolen.

They say the adult day rehab program where Jack Justice attends took him to vote, without the family's permission. What's worse is Justice says the person helping him wouldn't cast the ballot for his choice for President.

Jack Justice has been voting since he turned 18. Typically his family takes him to their neighborhood precinct. This time Primus Industries, his adult day rehab program, took him to vote. His family was shocked, but what shocked them more was that Jack claims that his aide commandeered his vote.

"They told me to vote for Obama, I said no I wanted to vote for McCain," said Jack Justice, a voter.

Jack Justice says the person helping him, selected Obama's name. His sister says the family is often asked to sign a permission slips for trips, but for this they were never notified.

"No permission slips, no nothing, he just came home and said he had gone," said Nancy Justice, Jack's sister.

We questioned election officials about the procedure, who say they recall the group coming in to vote and an aide was helping the individuals, but they must sign an oath that they'll cast the ballot however the voter prefers.

"So it plainly says the person should tell the person how they want to vote and then they help them mark it," said Carolyn Hatcher, Dougherty County Elections Supervisor.

Election officials say they can't follow people into the booth to see what happens. We contacted the Albany Area Community Service Board who oversees Primus Industries. They say they do their best to protect the safety, treatment, and care of the individuals in their programs. They also said they'll look into the allegations and conduct an internal investigation if necessary. Nancy Justice is just upset the incident happened.

"For me it was kind of pushing it to the limit there to get him to vote for someone in particular who they wanted him to vote for," said Nancy Justice.

Election officials say the family's only option is to file a challenge to the election results. The Justice's are considering their options.

Advance voting will begin this Monday at the Riverfront Resource Center on Pine Avenue. Advance voted will run through October 31st. No one will be able to vote the Monday prior to election day.

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