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Published: Saturday, 1/22/2005

Ex-coroner: Penmanship caused error

PORT CLINTON - Former Ottawa County Coroner Gilbert Bucholz, accused of misstating his birth date on a voter registration form, said yesterday that his sloppy handwriting was to blame for what he called a misunderstanding.

A special prosecutor is investigating whether Dr. Bucholz, who was defeated for re-election in November, should be charged with violating Ohio election law for listing an incorrect birth date on the form, filed with the Ottawa County Board of Elections in 1996.

Elections Director JoAnn Friar said this week that the board obtained a copy of the former coroner's birth certificate, which states he was born Sept. 4, 1933. A photocopy of Dr. Bucholz's voter registration form lists what appears to be a birth date of July 4, 1938.

Dr. Bucholz said yesterday that his birth certificate is correct, and that his "poorly written" numerals on the voting form may have caused some people to misread his month and year of birth.

Tom Stierwalt, the Sandusky County prosecutor, will decide as early as next week whether he agrees. Mr. Stierwalt took the case as a special prosecutor.

Dr. Bucholz also faces an April 28 hearing before the Ohio Elections Commission on a complaint that alleges that he falsely claimed endorsements in last fall's election from four Ottawa County physicians.

The four doctors have submitted affidavits to the commission stating that they did not support Dr. Bucholz, and did not give him permission to use their names in advertising.

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