Missing data card mystery delays election resultsWritten by Danielle Stanton | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Tallying of primary election results in Lucas County was delayed for hours May 6 in part due to several misplaced data cards that were believed to contain votes.
Tabulation stalled at 72 percent of votes counted when it was discovered the cards were missing and did not resume for hours. After three hours of searching, a total of seven missing cards were located in a warehouse where the voting machines are kept, said Lucas County Board of Elections (BOE) member Jon Stainbrook. Five were initially found and then two later in the night, he said.
Ron Rothenbuhler, chairman of the BOE, blamed poor inventory control and worker oversight for the issues.
“We look at inventory control. We have part-time workers — not constant personnel. We certainly have some issues,” Rothenbuhler said. “The [missing cards] did delay the election.”
Officials also suspected some of the missing data cards that contained ballot information had been created May 7 rather than in April when the machines were tested, which would suggest dishonesty by personnel. It’s still not clear who might have created fake cards to replace the missing ones and why, Stainbrook said.
The Ohio Secretary of State’s office is investigating.
“The only way the people are going to have faith in this process is to say I feel safe with this election,” Stainbrook said. “I will not feel safe until all these questions are answered.”
The tension at the Early Vote Center late May 6 was like courtroom drama. Stainbrook accused BOE Director Gina Kaczala of lying to the media. Kaczala initially told reporters there were no missing data cards and then changed her statement.
“It’s unconscionable to me that Gina Kaczala, the director, would blatantly lie to the media to say that all cards were accounted for and knew there were five missing,” Stainbrook said.
Kaczala was unable to be reached for comment.
An employee was called in to answer questions about the allegedly forged cards. The employee, whose name was unavailable, reported that the cards were legitimate and was later taken into a separate room with two Lucas County Sheriff’s deputies. Stainbrook threatened prosecution.
The elections board convened three times over the night of May 6 and into early May 7 to officiate several ballots that were damaged or unclear.
Results of the District 2 Toledo City Council race, which was conducted by paper ballot, were not released until about 4 a.m., with incumbent Matt Cherry the clear winner with 40 percent of the vote from a lukewarm turnout.
The race was done using paper ballots because its candidate filing deadline was too late to include it on the electronic ballot, said BOE Deputy Director Dan DeAngelis. But many voters were unaware of this, leading to confusion.
Cherry, a Sheet Metals Workers’ union member, received 1,823 votes, taking the seat by a margin of 303 votes over independent Marcia Helman. Helman won 33 percent of the vote; Bob Vasquez earned 17 percent; and Joe Celusta came in last with 9 percent.
Cherry, who was confident of a win but wary of low voter turnout, said he felt tired but excited about retaining the Council seat he was appointed to in January after it was vacated by Mayor D. Michael Collins.
“Obviously, I’m very excited,” Cherry said early May 7. “I feel the voters of District 2 made a good decision and I’m going to prove that to them. Today, we have a Council meeting. I’m ready to show them I’m there for them and I’m ready to commit and do for them.”
Cherry said he was disappointed in the snafu at polling headquarters.
“I hope for future elections we have to get that back together. It looked like a circus sometimes down there and we have to move to stop that for sure,” he said.
He said he was ready to get down to business by working with Collins on issues, including Toledo’s pothole problem and the vacant Southwyck property.
“I’m going to see what we can do with Southwyck and I’m working with the mayor and I’m doing what I can,” Cherry said.
Incumbent Republican Barbara Sears defeated Scott Allegrini in the race for District 47 state representative. Sears, who had 59 percent of the vote, could not be reached for comment.
Allegrini ran on repealing the Affordable Care Act and his public role as co-founder of the conservative group Children of Liberty.
“I think Barbara is a good woman,” Allegrini said shortly before polls closed. “And she’s been a good representative. I just disagree with a couple issues. It’s time to put my money where my mouth is and run. That is what started it and it’s been a heck of an adventure.”
Republican Kevin Haddad will face incumbent Democrat Carol Contrada in the Lucas County Commissioners race in the fall. Republican Richard May will challenge incumbent Democrat Marcy Kaptur for U.S. House District 9.
Bill Delaney and Meghan Gallagher will represent District 11 on the Republican state central committee and Mark Wagoner and Dee Talmage will represent District 2. Delaney defeated incumbent Stainbrook. Gallagher, Wagoner and Talmage all retained their seats.
Delaney told Toledo Free Press before the election that he would like to see more communication between local conservative organizations, including Republicans, Libertarians and the tea party.
“We’ve got to draw all these ideologies into one big R because we’re not going to get anyplace being divided,” Delaney said. “There’s too much division. I want to get all these people together in one group. You’ve got to have somewhere where you can talk about it. Right now there’s no talking going on. We have got to form a better organization.”
Issue 1 was approved with 65 percent of the statewide vote. The issue asked voters to approve a constitutional amendment authorizing the borrowing of $1.875 billion to help finance roads, bridges, sewer, drinking water and solid waste projects.
Voters rejected school levies in Sylvania and Bedford. The Northwood school levy passed.
Rossford voters approved levies for city improvements, the fire department and recreation by wide margins.
Only about 10 percent of eligible Lucas County voters showed up at the polls.
Tags: Bill Delaney, Bob Vasuez, Dee Talmage, Joe Celusta, Jon Stainbrook, Kevin Haddad, Lucas County Board of Elections, Marcia Helmen, Marcy Kaptur, Mark Wagoner, Matt Cherry, primary election, Ron Rothenbuhler