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Secretary of State's office weighs in on voting allegations

Scott Seitz2 • Jul 14, 2014 at 10:54 PM

The Ohio Secretary of State's office has responded to recent allegations of wrongdoing at the Huron County Board of Elections.

Terminated elections board employee Amy Maestas claimed in a letter addressed to the Secretary of State the following allegations against board of elections director Sharon Locke and deputy director Tom Gerrity:

"During November 2012 elections, it is my belief that Mr. Gerrity, the deputy director, did not upload the memory card from one of the absentee TSX machines," Maestas wrote. "I overheard and was later told by the director that Mr. Gerrity did not upload the memory card correctly and more than 3,000 votes were lost."

Maestas cited two more election-related offenses.

"During the May 2013 election, the memory card for one of the TSX machines used to encode the voter access cards for the absentee voters was not properly cleared during the L&A (logic and accuracy) process," she said in the letter. "Ninety-six votes were left on the memory card. This resulted in the Monroeville school levy failing. During an interview with the Norwalk Reflector, Ms. Locke stated that it was because the provisional votes changed the outcome.

"During the May 2014 election, the deputy director told the Reflector that there was one precinct that received the wrong ballots," Maestas said. "To my knowledge, I do believe that there were more precincts that that."

Locke disputed these allegations in a recent Reflector article.

Matthew M. Damschroder, director of elections for the Secretary of State Jon Husted, formally responded in an email sent to Locke.

"Two of the three allegations made by Ms. Maestas involve issues that had previously been addressed by the board," Damschroder said in the email.

"We encourage the board members to continue to discuss ways to improve the board's operations in an effort to ensure that these issues do not occur in the future," he added. "For example, the board might want to institute a procedure whereby more than one staff member is responsible for checking and re-checking all memory cards to ensure that each is cleared after logic and accuracy testing.

"Additionally, the staff members who train the precinct election officials might want to dedicate more training time to cover Election Day procedures and underscore the importance of issuing the correct ballot to a voter," Damschroder said.

"The remaining allegation -- the first one raised by Ms. Maestas -- appears to be false, based upon the explanation of the board's in-person absentee vote total provided in your letter," he added.

Damschroder indicated the Secretary of State's office has stated Maestas may provide more documentation.

"If such documentation is provided that warrants further discussion of these issues, our office will contact you (Locke)," he said.

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