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Published: Wednesday, 5/5/2010

Ballot sanctity

NEED another reason to support reform of Lucas County government? How about wanting to feel confident that how you vote will remain secret?

An employee of the county Board of Elections, Trish Birmingham Moore, posted a comment on the online social network Facebook asserting that Allan Block, chairman of The Blade's parent company, cast an early vote for county Republican Chairman Jon Stainbrook in Tuesday's primary. She called Mr. Stainbrook a "snake."

Where to begin? Did Ms. Moore in fact determine how Mr. Block had voted? If so, how? That would be a blatant violation of his voting rights.

If she was able to do so, can other employees of the elections board see how other county residents - including you - voted? And what business does an elections board employee have discussing how anyone voted, on Facebook or anywhere else?

Linda Howe, the board's director, insists that Ms. Moore could not have known how Mr. Block voted, and was merely engaging in speculation. Even if that's true - and Ms. Howe's assertion hardly settles the matter - is it proper conduct for an employee of the board that is supposed to ensure free, fair, and clean elections?

For that matter, what does it mean when a board employee disparages Mr. Stainbrook publicly, since the board is a major battleground in the war for control of the county GOP? Does she speak for the board's other Republican staffers?

Not to put too fine a point on it, this incident stinks. Ms. Howe's assurance that she'll review Ms. Moore's behavior when she gets around to it isn't enough. It needs to be the subject of a federal investigation.

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, whose office supervises elections in Ohio, may also want to examine how Lucas County's elections board is doing its job.

One thing is for certain: If the county's citizens are to have any confidence in a review of elections board practices, the board can't be allowed to investigate itself.

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