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Published: Tuesday, 3/19/2013

Voter registration issue leads to flap within GOP

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Anthony DeGidio  left, is sworn in as a member of the Lucas County Board of Elections at One Government Center in Toledo, by Toledo Municipal Court Judge Bill Connelly. Anthony DeGidio left, is sworn in as a member of the Lucas County Board of Elections at One Government Center in Toledo, by Toledo Municipal Court Judge Bill Connelly.
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The issue of the residency of a Republican member of the Lucas County Board of Elections is now officially before the Lucas County Board of Elections, following the filing of a voter registration challenge Monday.

John Marshall, the 2012 unsuccessful Republican opponent of Democratic County Commissioner Pete Gerken, claimed in his challenge that Republican board member Anthony DeGidio lives in Youngstown rather than the Sylvania Township address he claims in his challenge.

The exact process for addressing Mr. Marshall’s challenge was unclear Monday, but if it is upheld, the outcome would likely mean Mr. DeGidio’s removal from the board, which pays him a salary of more than $17,000 a year and provides health insurance.

Mr. Marshall is a former political ally of Lucas County Republican Chairman Jon Stainbrook, the only other Republican on the four-member Lucas County Board of Elections. Mr. DeGidio, a lawyer, used to be an attorney for Mr. Stainbrook, but the two are now at odds over Mr. DeGidio’s status as a member of the elections board.

Last week, Mr. Stainbrook filed a complaint with the Ohio Secretary of State that Mr. DeGidio should be removed from the board because of his alleged expired residency and because he is the subject of an ethics report by the Disciplinary Counsel of the Ohio Supreme Court.

The dispute about Mr. DeGidio’s service on the board is the latest chapter in an ongoing drama inside the agency that oversees all elections in Lucas County. The board is under pressure from the Ohio Secretary of State to respond to a critical report issued in February finding the board to be lacking disciplinary, budgeting, recording-keeping, and inventory accounting policies and an organizational chart — much of which board members dispute.

Mr. DeGidio joined the board in July, 2011, just a month after Mr. Stainbrook was sworn in, completing a takeover of the Republican half of the board by the Stainbrook faction of the Republican Party three years after Mr. Stainbrook won control over the county GOP chairmanship.

Mr. DeGidio registered in Lucas County in 2002, changed his residence to Maumee in 2008, then to an address on Scarlet Oak Drive, Sylvania Township in 2012. He is not the owner or leaseholder at that address, but said he stays with a friend who owns the townhouse.

In an interview Friday he acknowledged that he has been staying for extended periods at his parents’ residence in Youngstown, Mahoning County.

He said his livelihood and many of his possessions are in Lucas County and that this is where he intends to return, which he said is the key issue in a voter registration dispute.

Mr. Stainbrook raised the issue at the board’s Jan. 22 meeting when he questioned Mr. DeGidio on whether he was having any success at moving back permanently to Lucas County. The exchange occurred before the board’s session officially started.

Matt McClellan, a spokesman for the Ohio Secretary of State, said it’s up to the elections board to decide a voter’s right to vote. He was not sure whether Mr. DeGidio, as a member of the elections board, has the right to vote on his own right to vote.

“The prosecutor would have to clarify that,” Mr. McClellan said.

Contact Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.



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