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Published: Wednesday, 11/24/2010

Lucas County GOP disputes method of processing absentee ballots

BLADE STAFF

The Lucas County Republican Party disputes the way the county Board of Elections processed the provisional ballots that this week put Democrat Carol Contrada on the Board of County Commissioners instead of GOP candidate George Sarantou.

On Tuesday, the party filed several Freedom of Information Act requests with the elections board. The filings came a day after the board certified Mrs. Contrada, a Sylvania Township trustee, the winner of the county commissioner's race.

In certifying Mrs. Contrada the winner, it reversed the unofficial results of the Nov. 2 election that had Mr. Sarantou, a Toledo City Council member, the victor by 1,376 votes.

The board altered the election outcome by adding 4,145 provisional ballots that were not included in the unofficial vote on election night, giving the race to Mrs. Contrada by 191 votes.

Jon Stainbrook, chairman of the county Republican Party, said the elections board counted many provisional ballots that should have been invalidated under state law. "It's obvious the staff at the Board of Elections did not handle the provisional ballots properly and did not instruct the staff on the proper handling of them," he said.

Elections director Linda Howe was unavailable Tuesday, but Lavera Scott, the board's voter services supervisor, said she stood by the provisional ballot count and the validity of the voters casting the ballots that were counted.

She said Mr. Stainbrook misunderstood the law.

In their Freedom of Information Act request, the Republicans asked for information on the number of registered voters in each precinct, information on policy and procedures for determining the eligibility of provisional ballots, a breakdown of the number of machine, absentee, and provisional voters in each precinct, and a copy of the minutes of the elections board's meeting for determining the eligibility of provisional voters.

- Carl Ryan



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