September 17, 2014

Medina
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Board of Elections sends 8 ballots to Medina County prosecutor

MEDINA — The Medina County Board of Elections voted Wednesday to send eight ballots to the Medina County Prosecutor’s Office to investigate possible voter fraud.

Board members unanimously agreed at their morning meeting to reject the ballots, which they do each year when they find issues with ballots. They also voted to forward the ballots to the prosecutor’s office for possible charges.

With the eight ballots in question, there were three different issues:

• One was an absentee ballot that had been requested on Sept. 11. The person who requested the ballot died on Sept. 13, according to Medina County Health Department records, said Carol Gurney, deputy director of the elections board. The board mailed absentee ballots out the first week in October, and though the person died on Sept. 13, it was filled out and returned to the elections board.

• Four absentee ballots had signatures that did not match the ones on the voting rolls. The voters were contacted by the board and asked to come in to the office to cast a ballot and none responded.

• Three provisional ballots were cast by voters who also cast an absentee ballot. Board member Teresa Cotman advocated they be forwarded to the prosecutor’s office because she “could not think of an instance in which I would sign my name to one ballot and then sign it to another.”

Altogether, the board issued fewer provisional ballots to voters this year than it did during the previous presidential election in 2008. This year, 2,209 provisional ballots were issued compared with 2,769 in 2008. Of those issued, the board will count 1,827 of the provisional ballots this year compared with 2,275 in 2008.

Provisional ballots can be rejected if an individual voted in the wrong precinct or is not registered to vote.

The percentage of provisional ballots counted went up only slightly this year to 82.7 percent from 82.2 percent in 2008.

The board is scheduled to meet Dec. 11. At that regular meeting, members are expected to discuss issues with poll watchers interfering with election workers on Nov. 6. Poll watchers are allowed to observe the election process, but are not supposed to interfere.

Board member Pam Miller said there were reports that some poll watchers were sitting at the tables with elections officials.

“I think the secretary of state needs to come up with some guidelines for those observers,” Miller said. “They were writing down the names of all the voters that came in.”

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.