Secretary of state to investigate allegations against Huron County elections board

Recently-terminated employee goes public with serious accusations of wrongdoing against director and deputy director.
Cary Ashby
Jul 2, 2014

The office of Secretary of State Jon Husted plans to investigate the allegations made by a recently-terminated employee of the Huron County Board of Elections against its director and deputy director.

Amy Maestas, who was fired June 25, mailed a letter to the secretary of state's office in which she leveled serious accusations of wrongdoing against director Sharon Locke and deputy director Tom Gerrity. Maestas was hired part-time in 2007 and full-time in 2010.

In her letter, Maestas requested a meeting with Husted where she said she would provide documents to support her allegations.

"We received it (her letter) last week," said Matt McClellan, press secretary for Husted's office.

"The secretary takes the integrity of the election system seriously," McClellan said.

"Although the issues are allegations at this point, the office will be investigating the matter to gather all the facts. From that point, we'll decide how to proceed," the spokesman added.

One of Maestas' allegations was that Gerrity failed to "upload the memory card from one of the absentee TSX machines" during the November 2012 elections.

"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 wrote.

The former worker 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," Maestas 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. To my knowledge, I do believe that there were more precincts that that," Maestas said.

McClellan was asked Monday if the allegations are true if that meant some election results could be impacted or changed.

"I think it's important not to get ahead of ourselves," he said.

McClellan stressed that the secretary of state's office takes the election system seriously. The spokesman declined to speculate on what might happen until investigators had gathered all the facts.

The board of elections, upon receiving Maestas' letter, forwarded a copy to secretary of state regional liaison, Marilyn Jacobcik, and secretary of state legal counsel, Brandi Seskes.

Locke has provided a formal response to the allegations.

"The board plans to cooperate fully with any inquiry or investigation by the secretary of state, or other investigating agency, and will make available all records, equipment and personnel, as requested. The board is confident in affirming the certification of all past election results and that all business of the board is conducted in a fair, honest and open manner," Locke said.

"The board has no further comment on the letter or the issues raised until the state concludes any proceedings on the matter," added the director, who couldn't be reached for comment Monday.

Gerrity, when reached Monday, said the board has nothing to add to Locke's previous statement.

"We're waiting to hear from the secretary of state," Gerrity said.