Subpoenas will be issued to more than 2,200 poll workers and others to solicit testimony about advice they gave to voters in Hamilton County precincts being investigated in a contested judicial race.
Local Democratic Party leaders said the issuance of subpoenas is “a ridiculously expensive and time-consuming proposition” that could be done more quickly and cheaply through other methods, but that process is being blocked by their Republican counterparts.
In a joint statement issued today, Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Tim Burke and Caleb Faux, the party's executive director, criticized Republicans for being obstructionist in the probe involving contested votes cast in a race for Juvenile Court judge.
The controversy stems from the race between Democrat Tracie Hunter and Republican John Williams. After provisional ballots were tallied, Hunter trailed Williams by 23 votes, but Hunter filed a lawsuit that alleges some people were told to vote in the wrong precinct by poll workers.
In the lawsuit, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Dlott ordered the Board of Elections to consider whether poll worker error did, in fact, cause some people to vote in the wrong precinct. Hunter's campaign alleges that 286 people went to the right location to vote, but were directed to the wrong table.
Dlott’s order requires votes cast in the wrong precinct as a result of poll worker error to be counted. As two of the four members of the county's Board of Elections, Burke and Faux asked that those votes be counted. But the two Republican members — Party Chairman Alex Triantafilou and Chip Gerhardt — voted against the motion.
Democrats are prepared to present the tie-vote to Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner immediately, so she can break the tie. But the Republican board members are using procedural maneuvers to delay forwarding their request to Brunner, Burke and Faux said.
Brunner, a Democrat, leaves office in a few weeks. She will be replaced by Republican Jon Hustead.
“In fact, the Republicans have voted against every motion that we have made designed to move the Court-ordered investigation forward. As a result, in order to get something done, we were forced to vote for the Republican proposal that will result in subpoenas being issued to 2,204 poll workers and any observers who were in the precincts in question on Election Day,” Burke and Faux wrote in their statement. “It is a ridiculously expensive and time-consuming proposition which will serve only to delay the completion of the investigation when the same thing could have been accomplished with simple questionnaires sent to poll workers and, more importantly, the voters themselves.
“For the most part, those voters do not even know that there votes have not been counted, but whose votes could well determine who the next Juvenile Court judge will be. (Those voters can call 1-866-644-6868 to find out if their votes have been counted, and if not, why not.),” the statement continued.
“The saddest part of all of this is that it did not use to be this way,” Burke and Faux wrote. “For years, our Board of Elections counted the ballots that were cast in the wrong precinct (as did other boards across the state of Ohio), but only those votes that the voter was qualified to cast. That is, if the voter happened to go to a wrong precinct that was in a different house district than they were entitled to vote in, the Board only counted those votes that the voter was properly qualified to cast. But when Ken Blackwell was the Secretary of State, he issued a directive that prohibited the counting of such votes and subsequently the then Republican controlled state legislature enacted that same prohibition into law. Each year since then, hundreds of Hamilton Countians have not had their votes counted, even though they were fully qualified voters and had voted in the right room.”
The Democratic duo hope Dlott's order will result in the law being changed.