Investigation into alleged Shady Grove voter fraud closed
GREENE COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - A nearly year-long investigation into allegations of voter fraud in Shady Grove has been closed.
The investigation involved the wet-dry vote in November of 2016.
Second Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington requested Arkansas State Police to investigate last year.
The criminal investigation centered around allegations that camper trailers, with no basic utilities, were used as place of residences by people who registered to vote in the Nov. 8, 2016 election.
In a letter Ellington sent to the state police requesting the investigation in 2016, he wrote, "It is my understanding that in June 2016, there were 71 registered voters residing within the township. By the time early voting began on Oct. 25, 2016, the voter roll had increased to 103 registered voters within the township. It does not strike me as a coincidence that the wet/dry vote for the township was being considered during the same time frame the township's population increased by 45%."
Sunday evening, nearly a year later, Ellington told Region 8 News, "As part of the investigation, I issued 21 subpoenas and had people appear for question by our office with the assistance of Special Agent Joe Pickett."
Ellington said they could not get enough additional information to warrant filing charges.
"There was not sufficient evidence to obtain convictions in those cases," Ellington said. "Therefore, I issued a warning letter to each and then closed the file."
Instead, Ellington sent a letter to the 21 people involved in the investigation. He said although it appears some did change their voter registration to Greene County illegally, he thought this letter was the best way to resolve the issue.
The letter informed the recipients of proper voter registration protocols:
"Before you change your voter registration again, you should familiarize yourself with the laws pertaining to the question of, "What is your residence and domicile for voting purposes?" For several of those involved, a used camper or trailer without running water or other utilities does meet basic requirements to be a residence. Staying at a place on the weekends occasionally does not make it your domicile. This also applies to owning multiple properties; you can only register to vote at the address which is your domicile. Additionally, if you ever do wish to change your residence, you must first complete the move and abandon your previous residence, then change your voter registration, in that order. You cannot have more than one domicile at a time."
The letter went on to say that this is the recipient's warning and any further improper voting conduct could result in charges being filed against them.
Ellington said last year that the allegations into the voter fraud issue are serious.
"When the integrity of the ballot box is questioned our democracy is questioned," he said. "I take allegations of voter fraud seriously and my record indicates I haven't shied away from it in the past and won't in this instance."
The vote dealing with the manufacture or sale of alcohol in the Shady Grove Township of Greene County was later approved.
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