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Published: Saturday, 6/23/2012

Fired employee sues elections board

BLADE STAFF

A former Lucas County Board of Elections employee fired April 3 has sued the board in Lucas County Common Pleas Court alleging a violation of open-meetings laws.

In a complaint filed Thursday, Michelle Dudley says that by failing to declare the closed-door session's purpose, elections board members improperly convened an executive session just before their vote to fire her. Named in the suit are board members Ron Rothenbuhler, Jon Stainbrook, Anthony DeGidio, and Keila Cosme.

The elections board voted 4-0 to fire Ms. Dudley, who was an information technology manager for the computer systems that record and count votes. An investigation found her at fault for 156 test votes ending up as part of the unofficial count from the March 6 primary election.

Elections board members said Ms. Dudley failed to ensure all test votes were purged from the machines after the test. She had denied responsibility for that task.

Ms. Dudley, a Democrat, was hired in 2008 and had a $59,934 salary. She has since been hired by the county Department of Job and Family Services at a $43,201.60 salary.

The lawsuit, assigned to Judge Linda Jennings, seeks a permanent injunction directing the elections board to comply with the state's "Sunshine Law" and an order that Ms. Dudley be reinstated. The complaint also seeks back pay, attorney's fees, and damages in excess of $25,000.



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