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Officials keep tallying while awaiting fate

Lucas County board works to certify vote

While they wait for the Ohio secretary of state to decide whether to fire several board members and its top staffer, the Lucas County Board of Elections is going ahead with finishing up the official count of the May 6 election.

A spokesman for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said Monday he has no clear sense of when Mr. Husted will follow up on his tentative decision from a week ago to remove three members of the elections board and the director.

“There’s a process to this. We had the hearing on Thursday. He’s not looking to drag this out any longer than needs be,” spokesman Matt McClellan said. “I think you’ll see something soon.”

Elections Director Gina Kaczala, along with Republican board members Jon Stainbrook and Tony DeGidio and Democrat Ron Rothenbuhler, and the board’s deputy director, Dan DeAngelis, were notified May 12 by Mr. Husted of his intent to remove them for a history of neglect of duty and dysfunction in the office. Mr DeAngelis submitted his resignation last week, effective June 2. Exempted from the planned firing is Democratic board member John Irish.

Mr. Stainbrook, Mr. DeGidio, Mr. Rothenbuhler, and Ms. Kaczala all accepted the invitation of the secretary of state to defend themselves at a due-process hearing that was held Thursday. Hearing officer Matt Damschroder, the deputy assistant secretary of state, will report with a recommendation to Mr. Husted.

Mr. Husted issued his tentative decision after a bipartisan “transparency committee” investigated allegations of petty behavior, tampering with records, and other problems, including the board’s failure to forward flawed campaign finance reports to the Ohio Elections Commission and failure to hold regular board meetings since October.

In the meantime, the county elections staff, which reports to the four-person governing board, is working on certifying the votes from the May 6 election.

“I assume they want us to continue doing our jobs, which we’ve been doing correctly and efficiently,” Ms. Kaczala said Monday.

She said a staff of about 40 to 50 mostly seasonal employees was reviewing provisional ballots and doing other work to reconcile the precinct signature books with the unofficial count from election night, the normal process for “canvassing” the election.

Lucas County was the last county in the state to report results after counting was stalled for several hours to locate missing data cards.

Ms. Kaczala said about 200 provisional ballot envelopes need to be reviewed to determine whether the voters were registered voters.

“Everything is right on schedule,” Ms. Kaczala said. She said the board, including the three members that Mr. Husted wants to remove, is tentatively set to meet May 27 to certify the May 6 election. May 27 is the deadline to certify the election.

Mr. Rothenbuhler said he had received no notice from the Secretary of State’s office as of Monday afternoon.

Contact Tom Troy: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419--724-6058 or an Twitter @TomFTroy.

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