Secretary of State's office weighs in on voting allegations

Huron County election officials were accused of wrongdoing by ex-employee.
Scott Seitz2
Jul 12, 2014

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.

Comments

swiss family

Again Reflector, you missed the Headline... the proper headline was not that the Secretary of States Office weighed in on the voting allegation.. the proper headline ,, in my opinion was that the Office Cleared the Local election Officers, Loche and Gerrity of any wrong doing.. ...... AND if you are NOT going to make that the headline then to make that the top story OVER the K of C theft story is pure third grade journalism in my opinion...

Ehovemom

I don't think you understood the article - "Two of the three allegations made by Ms. Maestas involve issues that had previously been addressed by the board," ""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," In other words, YES, two of the allegations were true. The allegations had been dealt with internally to the satisfaction of the State. That does not make them criminals, but it does make me question validity of elections in Huron County when such errors make a huge difference in elections settled by very small margins.

swiss family

Interesting take on that Ehovemom... I am not saying you are wrong, or right, I guess it is all in the interpretation of that sentence. As I said in the past I have worked the elections in the past, and for all I know , maybe you have as well? I have seen changes in the way that the elections are handled almost every time, to make them more efficient and to make them less complicated, in my opinion, so that each and every vote cast, is accounted for.. and as far as I have seen they are accounted for.So for the State to say that they have previously discussed 2 of the allegations.. doen NOT in my opinion, mean that they discussed those issues to Huron county election officials specifically, they probably discussed it with every county election board , just like the Huron County Board, Tom and Sharon, always discuss it with every group that they are training before each and every election as they train and refresh all of the election workers

I have worked for the elections for several years now, and I will say that great efforts go into making sure that every effort and every safeguard goes into making sure that each and every vote is not only counted properly, but each and every vote is guarded and protected and given in privacy, and checked and double checked. to make sure that as few mistakes as possibly occur. Having seen Tom and Sharon work in what could be total Chaotic madness where every voting precinct worker and an opposing party member from their voting precinct, to make sure nothing was tampered with, all descend back at the board of election , after a grueling 14 hour day, where everyone is tired, and everyone needs to be checked in to make sure that everything is locked up properly, so that all votes are accounted for, and all of the safeguards are in place, and everything went without a hitch, and Tom and Sharon have been there all day as well, and yet they can keep morale up, spirits high, and the place running smoothly..is pure professionalism on their parts..

In my opinion, the article says that the State says that they found nothing wrong with what they did, and just advised the County , in general, to use everyone's ideas, and suggestions, to find ways to improve and make voting better and easier...which is what they tell every district every year anyway.. I think what they are also saying, without coming out and saying it as well, is if you are an employee and you see something that is questionable , don't wait years to mention it.. and don't wait until you are "let go" speak up when it happens.. otherwise it looks like "sour grapes" and you lose all leverage, but that would be if I believe that your story had one iota of truth in it anyway.... which I don't unfortunately...

eat my shorts

Dude do you really expect people to read all this jargon? Have you ever written a book, or are you more of a 1000 word essay man?

TheGravyWhisperer

...well now ...don't be too quick to discourage these essayists ...I save them up for when I can't get to sleep at night...

swiss family

shorts.....NO ,in fact I am begging you NOT to try to read or understand my writing.. please skip mine and just jump to the more suitable remarks that you are looking for that mention the "Bath house," and the "calendar" I believe that is more to your liking, and it will not bother me one bit..my writing is not meant for you

mikeylikesit

dont forget the "girls of cbcf gone wild" 6 cd box set!

JakeMac25

No excuses. Voting is one of the last few rights that we have that aren't infringed. There were people whose votes went uncounted and the issue wasn't addressed until this happened. All that has been taught is that these type of practices are accepted until the officials get caught.

Richard Cranium

This is an old article. Why re-hash it? Maestas is probably one of those office drones that hears talk between supervisors and takes notes in case she needs it to benefit herself down the road. I think in every election there are mistakes. However, the staff at the election board recognized these mistakes and brought them to the attention of the board. They obviously did nothing to hide or cover up the errors. So I give them a pat on the back for that, and a slap on the rear for the mistakes. But, keep in mind, in every election you have the "human factor"; errors will occur. So unless Maestas has any more "dirt" to throw, close out this article. It's not newsworthy anymore. Pick on someone else this week.

eat my shorts

I'm sorry, but how can you say "give them pat on the back"? In this country, voting is a sacred rite that goes to the very core of what democracy means. Within that context, there needs to be zero tolerance for mistakes in the election process. When mistakes are made, people need to fess up and part ways. It's nothing personal. That should be step 1 when trying to improve the system. I also don't agree that this story isn't newsworthy, because voting is a serious matter. Exactly who is being picked on? When allegations are made, you should expect no less than an investigation to figure out what really happened.

Waggaze

I concur with your assertion on voting being the heart of our democracy. Just as a person expects their paycheck to be dead on accurate so should votes be. There should be zero tolerance for any mistakes in voting, counting nor proper materials sent out. Of course this might not set well with the party that has consistently cried foul on accurate vote count but there again they have been proved wrong statistically which goes back to the assertion of zero tolerance of vote count.

swiss family

Obviously .."Wag ..And Shorts" live in a different world than the rest of us..Please tell us of the world in which you live, where there are obviously NO machines and NO other People?? Because on our planet.. no matter how hard you work, and no matter how many safe guards are put in place as well.. if you have people involved, even if they are absolutely as trained as well as possible, and if you have machines involved and as fine tuned as possible, mistakes happen...you must live on Bizarre world...

other.PP

So what you're saying is that it's ok to mess up now and then? If so, then you need to climb back into your flying saucer and go home. Tell me, do the women on your planet have 3 boobs or antennas? Practicing zero tolerance in the election process is very doable.

mb5150

the secy of state's ofc can investigate and rule on this case in about, what, 2 weeks. yet, ohio's BCI has had four months to make a decision on the richland co deputy's murder of brian garber in lexington. the coroner ruled it a homicide. what is taking so long?!! ohio residents should be outraged!!!