Updated: Sarantou files Contest of Election in Lucas County Common Pleas CourtWritten by Kristen Criswell | | firstname.lastname@example.org
George Sarantou, Toledo city councilman and candidate for Lucas County Commissioner, filed a Contest of Election in regard to the outcome of the November commissioner’s race Dec. 13 in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.
Sarantou was originally declared Lucas County commissioner, but lost the election to Carol Contrada by 191 votes after provisional ballots were counted. The vote tally changed to a 193 vote margin for Contrada after a formal recount was completed.
Based on an initial review of documents from the Lucas County Board of Elections (BOE) by Sarantou, his lawyers and political consultant, Sarantou decided to file a Contest of Election surrounding issues with the provisional ballots.
“Over the past month, I have stressed that I only wanted an honest and open review of the facts surrounding the provisional ballots issue,” Sarantou said during a press conference.
“A review of the limited information provided shows concerns and inconsistencies regarding how provisional ballots were handled by the Lucas County Board of Elections. Those provisional ballots changed the outcome of the commissioner’s race in the November election,” he said.
Some of the issues of concern include more than 100 ballots cast in at a precinct where an individual doesn’t live and incidents where individuals may have voted more than once, said Terry Casey, election consultant for Sarantou. Casey said the cooperation from the BOE in regards to records does not allow them to have a complete idea of how many questionable provisional ballots there may be.
“We want to make sure this board of elections does it right does it honest and does it complete. So far we have not been satisfied,” said Casey, who has assisted with recounts in more than 40 Ohio Counties and served on the board of election in Franklin County for 14 years.
The BOE released a statement in response to Sarantou’s filing:
“During the entire election process, the Board has been nothing but open and accommodating to all the candidates and political parties. There is no evidence that warrants the election results or the recount results to be changed. We have released all information allowed by Ohio Law, Federal Law and Directives issued by the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.
“The Lucas County Board of Elections reiterates to the voters that every vote counts. The Board also wants to remind the public that every valid provisional voter is someone who is registered to vote in Ohio and resided in Lucas County. Reasons to vote provisionally include; the voter moved and/or changed their name or they requested an absentee ballot and did not return it. The Board of Elections stands by its results, processes and procedures and will continue to conduct fair, accurate and efficient elections.”
After publication of this article, Carol Contrada released a statement on Dec. 13, “I am confident in the election process, including the re-count, and believe that all legal votes were properly validated and correctly counted by the Board of Elections.
“As a lawyer, I will not comment on the actual legal filing until I have had a chance to review it. However, based on my knowledge of the election process, I think this is a waste of taxpayer money, prosecutorial and judicial time, and I’m surprised and disappointed that Mr. Sarantou has chosen this course of action.
“I have confidence that the law has been followed, and that the election process will be upheld by the court.
“Mr. Sarantou was also satisfied with the election process until he found out he was the loser. He had the opportunity to question the validity of provisional ballots for 10 days following the election while they were being processed, and he chose not to. Instead, he now wants to throw out an entire election because it didn’t go his way. That is an insult to every legitimate voter in this county.”
The BOE has 10 days to answer and the court has to set a hearing date between 15 and 30 days from Dec. 13.