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Published: Saturday, 4/9/2005

Elections board's 2 GOP members resign positions

BY FRITZ WENZEL
BLADE POLITICAL WRITER

The two Republican members of the Lucas County Board of Elections have called it quits, fulfilling a promise made in December to resign their posts to allow a new party chairman to name replacements.

The resignations of Sam Thurber and Bernadette Noe came two days after Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell promised to remove them and Democrats Paula Ross and Diane Brown because of problems related to the November election.

Ms. Ross and Ms. Brown said yesterday they are still considering their options.

A report stemming from an investigation of the county's management of the election concluded the elections board failed to maintain "ballot security," failed to properly manage a flood of voter registrations leading up to the election, issued and accepted faulty absentee ballots, and lost a poll book during the official canvass, a tool that is critical to determining the credibility of hundreds of votes, among other things.

In Ms. Noe's four-page resignation letter to Mr. Blackwell, she charged that the report "is full of inaccuracies and half-truths," and that the investigator, Richard Weghorst, "was a biased investigator and should not have been assigned to investigate our county" because he was one of those involved in administering the November election in Lucas County.

"As a witness and active participant in the Lucas County election, he should have been interviewed. Instead, he was the one doing the interviewing. I consider this to be a gross conflict of interest."

She also charged that Mr. Weghorst has a "personal or political grudge" against her.

Mr. Thurber's comments were similar.

"I find this report to be highly inaccurate as well as inconsistent with other public comments by you and your staff. Further, I believe that any independent reading of this report will not support any claim that I, personally, neglected my duty as a board member. But most importantly, I believe this investigation was conducted by a biased and politically motivated investigator," he wrote in reference to Mr. Weghorst.

Mr. Weghorst could not be reached for comment.

Contact Fritz Wenzel at:

fritz@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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