Covington councilman accused of violating election laws in 2017

COVINGTON, Ga. — City Councilman Anthony Henderson and five others from Newton County could be facing criminal prosecution for violating election laws nearly four years ago.

The Georgia State Elections Board met Wednesday to hear investigators’ findings from the 2017 case involving Henderson, which resulted in the board voting to bound over Henderson among others to the State Attorney General’s Office for criminal prosecution.

Henderson was elected to the Covington City Council in November 2017, representing Municipal Ward 3. He is the son of longtime Newton County Commissioner J.C. Henderson.

According to investigators, then-Newton County Election Supervisor Angela Mantle submitted 10 voter registrations to the Secretary of State’s Office that had irregularities in October 2017, many of which later showed direct ties to Henderson. 

Upon review, investigators found that Jaquory Saxton, Larry Saxton, Casetra Marks, Arthur Holmes and Kabrea Lassiter had registered to vote in the municipal election with a city address, though they lived in the county. Mantle said she received four applicants that used 8133 Puckett St. as their residential address and received two registrations with 7174 Puckett St. as their residential address.

Investigators contacted the listed individuals associated with the changes to the voter registrations and found eight who had their voter registration cards changed to show a new residential address in Municipal Ward 3 of Covington. 

Two of the electors, Lasseter and Holmes, stated they were told by Henderson that “they could use a former address to register so they could vote for candidates running in the Municipal Ward 3 election in the Nov. 7, 2017, election.”

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Jaquory Saxton and Larry Saxton stated they were also instructed by Henderson of which residence to list on their voter registration so they could vote in the same election. 

Demetrius Darty and James Huff claimed that Henderson assisted them with registering to vote but did not know their residential address would be changed to a false address. Jamonte Smith was not aware his voter registration was changed, investigators said.

Six of the electors voted in the election, even though they knew they did not reside in the city, according to investigators.

Henderson originally told investigators he would meet with them at his attorney’s office, but apparently never returned their calls, investigators said. 

Henderson also did not immediately respond to The Covington News request for comment.

Investigators recommended the State Election Board to bound over Henderson to the Attorney General’s Office for prosecution of two counts of violating OCGA 21-2-562 (fraudulent entries; unlawful alteration or destruction of entries; unlawful removal of documents; neglect or refusal to deliver documents) and a single count of violating OCGA 21-2-604 (criminal solicitation to commit election fraud; penalties).

Investigators also recommended Jaquory Saxton, Larry Saxton, Marks, Holmes and Lassiter be bound over for criminal prosecution for violating OCGA 21-2-562 and OCGA 21-2-571 (voting by unqualified elector or giving false information).

Violations of all three election laws cited are considered felonies. Guilty parties are subject to significant penalties including jail time.

A spokesman for the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office said most would plead out, but the ones who don’t are typically referred to the District Attorney’s Office and Superior Court.

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The State Election Board considered 62 other cases during its Wednesday meeting, but this was one of the few — maybe the only one — in which there appeared to be actual intent to commit election fraud.

This is a developing story and will be updated as new information is received.

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