April 20, 2014

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Henrietta Township man accused of voting twice

SHEFFIELD TWP. — The Lorain County Board of Elections is investigating a Henrietta Township man who cast two ballots during the presidential election.

The man, who could potentially face criminal charges for voter fraud, requested an absentee ballot on Oct. 23, and the ballot was returned to the elections board Nov. 3, according to board records. The man then voted at his polling place Nov. 6.

Elections board Director Paul Adams said the voting book at the polling location indicated that he already cast an absentee ballot but was allowed to sign the book over where it said “absentee sent.”

Adams said the voter should have been told that he had already voted and was denied a ballot or given a provisional ballot if he insisted. The presiding judge at the polling place told elections officials that she did not recall what happened with the voter, but Adams said her conduct also is under review.

“This is definitely a problem for this poll worker,” he said.

Elections board members said during a meeting Tuesday that they think the issue should be investigated and likely turned over to prosecutors.

“Here we have an example of a person who clearly voted twice,” elections board member Anthony Giardini said.

He said it was far worse than the voting fraud case against former Lorain Safety Service Director Robert Gilchrist, who is facing charges for voting in the wrong precinct in several different elections.

The elections board rejected a provisional ballot cast on Election Day by an elderly woman who had already cast an absentee ballot.

Elections board member Helen Hurst said she believes that also should be investigated even though the woman’s provisional ballot won’t be added to the voting results.

“I do not believe age should be an excuse for breaking the law,” Hurst, a Republican, said.

In all, the elections board rejected 865 of the 5,241 provisional ballots cast on Election Day, including 695 from people who weren’t registered to vote.

Giardini said he had qualms about rejecting 17 provisional ballots because voters didn’t print their names on the forms. Adams said some of those voters signed their names or left the space blank on the form.

Giardini said he didn’t believe that such a minor mistake should disqualify someone’s ballot from being counted.

Under state law, provisional ballot applications must include both a prospective voter’s name and signature, which Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has interpreted to mean that voters must both print and sign their names.

“This directive is just in error,” said Giardini, a Democrat.

The other board members unanimously agreed to send a letter to Husted, a Republican, protesting the rule.

The elections board also rejected 323 absentee ballots, the bulk of which weren’t counted because they were returned too late. Absentee ballots mailed to the Board of Elections must be postmarked the day before Election Day.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.