- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Thousands of Republicans in Georgia's 4th Congressional District received misleading phone calls Monday, telling them it was illegal to cross over and vote in yesterday's Democratic primary between Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney and Denise Majette.

In one of the unattributed messages, which have prompted an investigation by state election officials, a male voice says that "this is an official notice for Republican voters."

"It is a violation of state and federal law to attempt to vote in a Democratic primary without proper documentation. State and federal enforcement officials will be monitoring the polling places closely tomorrow for violations of the law," the voice intones.

"Do not risk violating the law by trying to vote in a Democratic primary without the proper documents."

According to state law, voters are only required to present a legal form of identification to cast a ballot in either primary.

Another phone call received by DeKalb County Republicans advised its targets that "the latest polls show that Cynthia McKinney will win so your vote will be wasted in the Democratic primary it is critical that we have a strong turnout in the Republican primary. Thank you for your support of President Bush, the Republican Party and Republican candidates."

Going into the day, polls had the two Democratic candidates in a dead heat. Early turnout reports showed many more voters in heavily Republican areas of DeKalb County were voting in the Democratic primary in defiance of party leaders.

Jeanna Lashley, who received the call that said it was illegal to cross over, said she "knew that the message was wrong" and voted in the Democratic primary.

"And so did my husband and so did his parents," she said. "And they are all Republicans."

When Barbara and Bruce Adams listened to the message on their answering machine Monday evening, Mrs. Adams looked at her husband.

"They are trying to force us not to vote in the Democratic primary," she said to him.

It didn't work.

"We both crossed over, and that's the way it is," Mrs. Adams said yesterday.

The offices of the DeKalb County Republican Party were jammed with voters wondering why such a message was left and where it came from.

DeKalb County Republican Chairman Dale Ranta said the ads did not come from his office, even though he had publicly urged local Republicans to vote in their own party's primary.

He told The Washington Times this week that "as many as 35 percent" of the 70,000 Republicans in the district could choose to vote in the Democratic primary.

Ralph Reed, chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, denied that anyone affiliated with the party made the calls and said that "it appears that the calls were made by the McKinney campaign or some of McKinney's supporters."

The McKinney campaign denied involvement in the calls.

The office of Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox began an investigation into the origin of the phone calls yesterday.

"These messages were meant to intimidate voters into not voting in today's Democratic primary," said Kara Sinkule, a department spokeswoman. "There is also another statute that could apply, regarding interfering with someone's right to vote."

Intimidation is a misdemeanor, she said. The inquiry will likely involve the subpoena of phone records.

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