COLUMBUS — A series of disputes with the Lucas County Board of Elections recently prompted Ohio's top elections official to put the agency under tight state control, something only one other northwest Ohio county — Putnam — has faced in recent years.
"But that's apples and oranges," Secretary of State Jon Husted said. "That doesn't do justice to the phrase apples and oranges."
Some of the administrative problems that plagued the Putnam County Board of Elections under Mr. Husted's Democratic predecessor, Jennifer Brunner, lingered into the current administration, which began last year. Ms. Brunner placed the board under administrative supervision until September, 2010.
The Putnam County board has had no vote ties that Mr. Husted has had to break, unlike in Lucas County, where he had to repeatedly step in to settle partisan disputes.
In 2008, Ms. Brunner built a training exercise around an Election Day meltdown of voting machines that was modeled after one experienced in Putnam County during a special congressional election.
In 2009, the board removed an elections director after she had software upgraded onto the county's computer system without state authorization. Later, the former director was accused of having used her county work computer for local Republican Party political activities.
"The incidents that occurred under the previous administration were on an administrative level, and we have seen some of those issues linger into the future," Mr. Husted said. "But things have gotten much better. The Putnam County situation has stabilized."
Karen Lammers, director of the Putman County board, declined to comment, referring questions to the board's chairman, Greg Hermiller. Mr. Hermiller did not return a message left at his Ottawa law office.
"They clearly had problems, but they were less systemic and more related to individual personalities," Ms. Brunner said. She said she had more serious problems in Summit County.
"I had to go to a board meeting in 2010 and tell them they all needed to get along," she said.
More recently, much of Mr. Husted's attention has been on Montgomery County, where a 2-2 tie over the scheduling of early voting hours on weekends landed the two Democratic board members before a hearing officer to defend their jobs.
The Democrats had insisted last week on weekend hours for early voting just two days after Mr. Husted issued a directive setting uniform hours for all 88 counties that included expanded weekday hours but no weekends. A recommendation from the hearing officer as to whether the two Democrats should be removed from the board of elections is expected any day.
Contact Jim Provance at: email@example.com or 614-221-0496.