The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
Turnout was at one of its lowest levels ever in Lucas County in the election Nov. 5, and one of those who helped set that unenviable distinction was a member of the Lucas County Board of Elections, board member Anthony DeGidio.
Voting records obtained by The Blade showed that Mr. DeGidio, a Republican, did not sign in nor was he checked in at the Sylvania Township Precinct W polling place where he would vote. He was seen attending a board of elections meeting at the Early Vote Center the night of the election.
The other three board members, Republican Jon Stainbrook and Democrats John Irish and Ron Rothenbuhler, did vote, records show.
Mr. DeGidio, 58, who commutes to board meetings in Toledo from his home in Youngstown, did not return phone calls or an email seeking comment about his voting history.
Mr. DeGidio’s attorney, Stephen Hartman, said Mr. DeGidio spends a lot of time resting when he is not in board of elections meetings because of his health.
“His capacity to do everything he wants to do is somewhat limited,” Mr. Hartman said. He said Mr. DeGidio stays with his parents in Youngstown because “they take care of each other” and that he’s looking for an apartment in the Toledo area.
Mr. DeGidio has a serious medical condition of reduced lung use and always has with him a breathing apparatus. In a recent pleading to the Ohio Supreme Court, Mr. Hartman explained that his illness was the reason for not complying with court orders in a disciplinary case against him. The pleading indicates that he has no regular income other than his salary with the board of elections.
Mr. DeGidio was appointed to one of the two Republican seats on the board in July, 2011, and then to a full four-year term in 2012. His term expires in 2016.
Board members are not required to vote, but there is an expectation that they would set a good example of voting, said Secretary of State John Husted, who was in Toledo on Tuesday to meet with The Blade’s editorial board and to attend a fund-raiser at the Toledo Club.
“I think anytime you’re in a leadership role, it’s always good to set the example that you’d like others to follow,” Mr. Husted said.
Mr. DeGidio’s voting record shows that he’s missed more voting opportunities than he’s taken. Since 2004, he participated in 7 of 16 elections in which he was eligible to vote.
Mr. Rothenbuhler and Mr. Stainbrook both voted in 31 of 31 eligible elections going back to 1996. Mr. Irish was eligible to vote in 37 elections and voted 36 times since 1996.
Mr. Stainbrook, who is also the GOP county chairman, said Mr. DeGidio’s failure to vote in a local election is a rarity.
“I’ve never heard of a board member not voting in an election. He had plenty of time to vote absentee or whatever he wanted to do,” Mr. Stainbrook said. “He doesn’t even participate in the election process that he’s overseeing.”
Only 19 percent of registered voters in Sylvania Township participated in the Nov. 5 election, showing that Mr. DeGidio was one of thousands who didn’t find the electoral competition compelling enough. Countywide, there were 81,574 votes cast, the fewest in a November general election since at least 2003.
Up for a vote were two seats on the Sylvania Township Board of Trustees, three seats on the Sylvania Board of Education, and two levies — for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority and the Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
No races were close enough for Mr. DeGidio’s nonvoting to make a difference. But his nonvote did not help the endorsed Republican in the trustee contest, Don Miller. Mr. Miller came in last of five candidates for the two positions.
Elections board members are appointed by the Ohio secretary of state based on the recommendations of the appropriate political party. State law mandates two board members of each of the major parties with the expectation that they would closely oversee the voting process to ensure fairness. Board members in Lucas County are paid $17,158 a year, and also receive health and life insurance and dental and prescription drug coverage.
Formerly of Maumee, Mr. DeGidio has an address on Scarlet Oak Drive in Sylvania Township, though he doesn’t own or rent the condo.
He and his former ally, Mr. Stainbrook, have become open enemies on the board, with Mr. Stainbrook frequently reminding Mr. DeGidio that he lives in Youngstown and that his law license is suspended.
Mr. DeGidio, a lawyer, was given a two-year suspension of his law license by the Ohio Supreme Court in April for using money from his client trust account to pay personal and business expenses. He was given the opportunity to have his license restored in a year.
Mr. Stainbrook has twice gotten behind efforts by residents to strip Mr. DeGidio of his right to vote in Lucas County to get him off the election board. But in each case Mr. DeGidio’s job on the board was protected by the two Democrats, Mr. Rothenbuhler and Mr. Irish.
Since falling out with Mr. Stainbrook, Mr. DeGidio has typically voted with the two Democrats on controversial issues. One such issue is expected to occur today when the board votes on a downtown location for its early voting center. Mr. Stainbrook, usually supported in the past by Mr. DeGidio, has argued that the early voting center location is more convenient for Democratic voters than Republicans who are more populous in the western suburbs.