Ohio’s top elections official rejects fraud claims | Marty Schladen/Ohio Capital Journal

A spokesman for Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said the office didn’t want to get dragged in last week when a fellow Republican echoed former President Donald Trump’s baseless fraud claims and called for an audit of Ohio’s 2020 election. But the state’s top election official won’t condemn Trump or say whether he’ll support the former president if he runs again in 2024. And despite his assertion that “it’s easy to vote and hard to cheat in Ohio,” LaRose wouldn’t comment on restrictions that forced large-county voters to wait hours to cast early ballots last year. Former state Treasurer Josh Mandel is one of many Republicans eagerly trying to take up the Trump mantle in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, who is also a Republican. Trump has lied relentlessly about his 7 million-vote loss in the 2020 election. His challenges have failed in more than 60 court proceedings and repeated reviews of the vote in states where the contest was close have upheld the legitimacy of President Joe Biden’s win. Even a highly partisan “audit” of Arizona’s results last week confirmed Biden’s  victory there. But that didn’t stop Trump from lying about it, too.

Full Article: Ohio’s top elections official rejects fraud claims – Ohio Capital Journal

Ohio: Judge dismisses key defendants in Stark County Dominion voting machine lawsuit | Robert Wang/The Canton Repository

lawsuit by a Washington, D.C.-based group won’t prevent Stark County from using Dominion voting machines for the Nov. 2 general election. Look Ahead America opted Wednesday not to appeal a key decision by Stark County Common Pleas Judge Taryn Heath. Her Aug. 20 ruling dismissed the county commissioners and Dominion Voting Systems as defendants from the case and killed any chance of immediately reversing the county’s purchase of the voting machines. Originally in May, the group filed suit against the Stark County Board of Elections, alleging the board had met in illegal executive sessions to discuss the machine purchase. However, the Board of Elections is not the governing entity that authorized the purchase of the machines. That was the Stark County commissioners. With the commissioners and Dominion no longer parties to the suit, it was not legally possible for Look Ahead America to get a preliminary injunction to pause or reverse the purchase, said Assistant Stark County Prosecutor Lisa Nemes. Heath’s magistrate, Kristen Moore, canceled a preliminary injunction hearing scheduled for Wednesday. She has set a phone conference for Monday for the parties to discuss what happens next.

Full Article: Look Ahead America lawsuit stymied in Stark voting machine lawsuit

Ohio: Dominion dismissed from Stark County voting machine lawsuit | Jake Zuckerman/Ohio Capital Journal

A Stark County judge dismissed Dominion Voter Systems on Friday as party to a lawsuit filed by a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit seeking to reverse the county’s procurement of the company’s machines. The lawsuit, filed in May by Look Ahead America LLC, steers clear of any explicit allegation that Dominion voting machines were used to defraud the 2020 presidential election. However, Look Ahead founder Matt Braynard has been touring the county in recent months offering supporting testimony, to no avail, in various forums perpetuating a lie spread by President Donald Trump and his allies that the 2020 election was somehow rigged. Look Ahead accused the Stark County Board of Elections of violating open meetings laws as it considered its eventual recommendation that the County Commission (which was also dismissed from the lawsuit Friday) buy new machines from Dominion. In a ruling on a separate lawsuit in May, the Ohio Supreme Court ordered the county commission to heed the board of election’s recommendation. Look Ahead America’s lawsuit sought to block the county from purchasing the machines and stop Dominion from providing them.

Full Article: Dominion dismissed from Stark County voting machine lawsuit – Ohio Capital Journal

Ohio: New Dominion voting machines start arriving in Stark County | Robert Wang/The Canton Repository

Stark County’s new touchscreen voting machines are rolling into the Board of Elections. The past couple of weeks, warehouse managers have been accepting shipments of the Dominion Voting Systems ImageCast X machines – which have been a point of controversy in the county. Workers have been opening the boxes, inspecting the machines for damage and testing them. Travis Secrest, an administrative assistant for the Board of Elections, said the equipment so far has passed all of the tests. Many of the machines still had plastic film on their touchscreens as of last week. All 1,450 are expected to arrive by the end of August. They’re scheduled to be used for the Nov. 2 general election and during the in-person early-voting period. It’s been a major ordeal for the county to buy the equipment – including a legal fight between the elections board and county commissioners. In May, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled commissioners were required to fund the purchase. Dominion quoted a retail cost for the new voting equipment of $6.17 million upfront, plus $331,550 a year to cover the software license, the hardware warranty and some ballot printing. The state covered $3.27 million. Dominion extended a trade-in credit of $1.7 million, reducing Stark County’s upfront cost to $1.48 million.

Full Article: Stark workers are testing the new Dominion voting machines now

Ohio refers 13 ballots — out of millions cast in 2020 — for investigation as possible voter fraud | Andrew J. Tobias/Cleveland Plain Dealer

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said Monday that voter fraud is “exceedingly rare” as his office announced it had referred 13 votes cast last year for further investigation as possible voter fraud. The 13 votes — or a tiny fraction of 1% of the 5.9 million votes cast during November’s presidential election — came from non-citizens who illegally cast a ballot, LaRose said. In Ohio, it is a felony for non-citizens to register to vote or to cast a ballot. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, a Republican, will review the cases for potential prosecution. State officials regularly cross-reference voting records with BMV records, which list someone’s citizenship status on their driver’s license. LaRose said his office also referred 104 instances in which non-citizens registered to vote but didn’t cast a ballot. Democrats have criticized LaRose, a Republican, and his GOP predecessors for publicizing rare instances of voter fraud, saying it creates a false impression. But LaRose said he does so to emphasize how rare it is. “What Ohioans should know is that voter fraud is exceedingly rare in Ohio and when it occurs, we take it seriously,” LaRose said.

Full Article: Ohio refers 13 ballots — out of millions cast in 2020 — for investigation as possible voter fraud – cleveland.com

Ohio Governor signs partisan judicial election bill | Jackie Borchardt/Cincinnati Enquirer

Ohio voters will see an R or a D next to the names of state Supreme Court and appellate court candidates on the November 2022 ballot after Gov. Mike DeWine signed legislation Thursday. Ohio was the only state where judicial candidates run in partisan primaries and nonpartisan general elections. Now it will be one of seven states that elect judges for its higher courts in partisan elections, according to the National Center for State Courts. DeWine signed into law Senate Bill 80, which makes partisan elections for only state Supreme Court and appellate court races. Lower court races will continue to be a hybrid of partisan and nonpartisan elections. The legislation followed two state Supreme Court elections where Republicans lost three of four seats, moving the court from a 7-0 GOP majority to a 4-3 majority. Five Republicans in the House and Senate joined Democrats in voting against the bill. Republicans backing the change said it was needed to better inform voters, who are less likely to vote in judicial races than partisan offices. “With party affiliations already listed for primaries, this bill follows that precedent and continues that implementation of transparency for the general elections here in our state,” Rep. D.J. Swearingen, R-Huron, a sponsor of the companion bill House Bill 149, said in a statement.

Full Article: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signs partisan judicial election bill

Ohio takes tougher line on election tech wireless connectivity | Benjamin Freed/StateScoop

Back in February, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the federal board that sets guidance on how Americans vote, adopted a comprehensive, and long-awaited update to its security standards on election technology. But while the election security community largely embraced the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines 2.0, the five-member EAC stopped short of banning wireless connectivity in ballot scanners and electronic tablets, a decision that led to a group of technologists and former election officials saying that even switched off, wireless capabilities pose a security risk. Still, individual states are free to set their own guidelines for election technology, and on Tuesday, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced updated standards that explicitly prohibit wireless capabilities in the equipment used there. “VVSG was a big change. This was a small but impactful change,” LaRose told StateScoop of the EAC update that allows the inclusion of wireless radios. The changes were made by the Ohio Board of Voting Machine Examiners, a four-person bipartisan group that reviews and certifies the election equipment used by the state’s 88 county boards of elections, including electronic pollbooks, printers and ballot scanners.

Full Article: Ohio takes tougher line on election tech wireless connectivity

Ohio embracing more efficient way to audit state election results | Tyler Buchanan/Ohio Capital Journa

As lawmakers debate proposed changes to Ohio’s election system, the Secretary of State’s Office is planning ahead on ensuring future election results are accurate. County boards of elections conduct General Election audits in midterm and presidential years, in accordance with state law. The results announced on election night are “unofficial” until they are officially certified by elections workers. The audits help to make sure Ohio reports the correct winners through comparing a sample of paper ballots with the results produced by tabulation machine. Ohio has traditionally used a system wherein elections officials choose certain voting precincts and review five percent of the total votes cast in a given county. States are now embracing a more efficient way to conduct these audits using sophisticated computer software. This new “Risk-Limiting Audit” system considers the margin of victory in a given race. To put it simply, officials don’t need to spend as much time auditing a large sample of ballots to verify a blowout election result. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are a handful of states that have switched to conducting audits this way. NCSL sums it up this way: “If the margin is larger, fewer ballots need to be counted. If the race is tighter, more ballots are audited.” The software does much of the work, taking the election margin and spitting out a corresponding number of ballots necessary to check in order to conclude the result was correct with a high degree of confidence. With a number of ballots in mind, the program selects individual paper ballots at random for elections workers to check.

Full Article: Ohio embracing more efficient way to audit state election results – The Highland County Press

Ohio: Stark County commissioners approve purchase of Dominion voting machines | Robert Wang/The Canton Repository

Stark County commissioners on Wednesday approved an agreement with the Ohio secretary of state that will allow the Stark County Board of Elections to purchase Dominion voting machines. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled Monday that state law required the commissioners to approve funding for the voting system, which the elections board had previously agreed to buy. The board plans to purchase 1,450 Dominion ImageCast X touch-screen voting machines, ballot scanners and other equipment. The elections board intends to test the equipment and train poll workers in time for it to be used in the Nov. 2 general election. The three-member Board of Commissioners had refused to fund the purchase in March. They said the Board of Elections failed to get the best value for taxpayers, failed to aggressively negotiate enough with Dominion Voting Systems and didn’t thoroughly consider the offerings of other vendors such as Election Systems & Software. Also dozens to more than 100 people, at least some influenced by unsubstantiated claims that hacked Dominion voting machines had cost former President Donald Trump re-election, had contacted the commissioners to urge more scrutiny of the purchase. After the application by Dominion of a trade-in credit, the county’s share is about $1.48 million, plus about $331,000 a year to cover the cost of software support, maintenance and warranties. The state is covering $3.27 million of the cost.

Full Article: Stark commissioners approve purchase of Dominion voting machines

Ohio: Top state court orders commissioners to fund buying Dominion machines | Robert Wang/The Canton Repository

The Ohio Supreme Court in a 6-1 ruling Monday said that state law requires the Stark County commissioners to fund the purchase of Dominion voting machines. The court granted the Stark County Board of Elections its request in April for a court order mandating the commissioners appropriate county funds, about $1.5 million, for the purchase. The court’s opinion stated that contrary to what the commissioners argued, a state provision requiring payment of expenses to come from money appropriated by the commissioners did not apply to the purchase of the voting machines. “I’m very pleased and happy that they saw the law the same way we did,” said Samuel Ferruccio, the chairman of the Stark County Board of Elections. “I think it’s now in the county commissioners’ lap for them to pay for the voting machines.” He said the commissioners have to vote to appropriate county funds for the machines within a reasonable time or the high court could hold them in contempt. Jeff Matthews, the director of the elections board, said in a prepared statement: “We look forward to the County Commissioners moving per the Court’s order to expeditiously acquire the new voting equipment so that it will be in place for the November election. The system has been fully certified as reliable and secure by the bipartisan U.S. Election Assistance Commission and the bipartisan Ohio Board of Voting Machine Examiners.”

Full Article: Top state court orders commissioners to fund buying Dominion machines

Ohio county ordered to purchase disputed voting machines | Andrew Welsh-Huggins/Associated Press

ArticlThe Ohio Supreme County on Monday sided with a county elections board in a dispute over the purchase of voting machines tied to unfounded allegations of fraud in the 2020 presidential election. At issue before the high court was a rift between the bipartisan elections board in Stark County and that northeastern county’s GOP-dominated board of commissioners, involving Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems machines. Under a 2018 law approved by Ohio lawmakers, “the commissioners must acquire the voting machines selected by the elections board,” the Supreme Court said in a 6-1 ruling. Although the current selection process doesn’t allow commissioners to scrutinize the election’s board choice of voting machines, that’s a matter for state lawmakers, not the court, the justices said. Stark County commissioners respect the court’s ruling and will comply with it, said their attorney, Mark Weaver. He added that commissioners “remain disappointed that taxpayers were not given, and now may never receive, the information necessary to discern whether this proposed purchase is the best value and most effective.” Messages were left for for the elections board and for Dominion Voting Systems. Elections board officials argued that without an order from the high court forcing the purchase, the machines wouldn’t be available in time for the November election.

e: Ohio county ordered to purchase disputed voting machines

Ohio: DC group founded by former Trump campaign staffers files open meetings lawsuit against Stark County Board of Elections | Robert Wang/The Canton Repository

A group founded by former Trump campaign staffers has filed a lawsuit against the Stark County Board of Elections, alleging the board held an illegal private discussion before voting to buy Dominion voting machines. Look Ahead America is asking a Stark County Common Pleas judge to invalidate the board’s Dec. 9 vote to approve the purchase of 1,450 Dominion ImageCast X voting machines and other voting equipment. The other plaintiff in the case is listed as Merry Lynne Rini of Jackson Township. Look Ahead America is based in Washington, D.C. Look Ahead America’s 19-page complaint filed Tuesday alleges the Board of Elections’ minutes show the four-member body met in closed-door executive sessions to discuss the purchase of public property four times. The complaint lists the board meetings for Dec. 9, Jan. 6, Feb. 9 and March 15. State law allows public bodies to discuss in executive session the purchase of public property. But only “if premature disclosure of information would give an unfair competitive or bargaining advantage to a person whose personal, private interest is adverse to the general public interest,” the complaint said. The Board of Elections gave no indication that it was meeting in executive session to avoid revealing information to give someone an unfair competitive or bargaining advantage, Look Ahead America argues. Therefore, it says the executive sessions are illegal and by law any actions based on discussions in illegal executive sessions are invalid.

Full Article: DC group alleges Stark County Board of Elections had illegal meetings

Ohio bill to overhaul voting laws would only allow ballot drop boxes at county boards of elections | Laura Hancock/Cleveland Plain Dealer

A newly introduced voting overhaul bill in the Ohio House would put into law that absentee ballot drop boxes are only allowed at one place in each county and for a shorter length of time than in November’s election. Up to three boxes would be allowed at each county board of elections under House Bill 294, sponsored by Republican Reps. Bill Seitz of Cincinnati and Sharon Ray of Wadsworth, and introduced Thursday. Drop boxes were widely used for the first time in Ohio for last year’s presidential election and have been a flashpoint in voting politics, even ending up in the courts. HB 294 also changes how people can register to vote, request absentee ballots, among other issues. The bill comes after a wave of election law changes in Republican-controlled states. Many Republicans falsely believe that widespread fraud in the 2020 election led to the loss of former President Donald Trump.

Full Article: Ohio bill to overhaul voting laws would only allow ballot drop boxes at county boards of elections – cleveland.com

Ohio: Inside Stark County’s Dominion Voting machine controversy: What do other counties use? | Robert Wang/The Canton Repository

The Stark County Board of Elections will be using 16-year-old touchscreen voting machines in the May 4 primary while most of the state uses more modern equipment. Most Ohio counties bought new voting equipment in 2019 with the state funding much of the purchase. The Stark County Board of Elections wanted to first see what the other counties experienced. Now the election board is mired in a legal battle with Stark County commissioners over its plan to buy Dominion ImageCast X touchscreen voting machines. Commissioners say the board failed to sufficiently consult them, vet Dominion’s price quote and properly consider other options. The commissioners also heard from dozens to more than 100 people influenced by baseless claims by former President Donald Trump and his supporters about Dominion voting machines. The Stark County Board of Elections wants to buy Dominion ImageCast X machines, with Director Jeff Matthews later citing several reasons. The ImageCast X machines are the most similar to the old TSX machines, presenting voters and board staff with a minimal learning curve. Votes are recorded on USB sticks and on paper receipts. Dominion was the only vendor offering a trade-in credit. And Stark County had a good long-term relationship with Dominion.

Full Article: Other counties using new voting machines as Stark mired in lawsuit

Ohio GOP lawmakers propose election changes, limiting drop boxes and allowing online ballot requests | Jessie Balmert/Cincinnati Enquirer

Proposed changes to Ohio election law would eliminate voting on the day before Election Day, limit drop boxes and allow voters to request absentee ballots online. The changes, which will soon be introduced as a bill by Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Green Township and Rep. Sharon Ray, R-Wadsworth, would eliminate in-person voting on the Monday before Election Day so county election officials could prepare for Tuesday. However, those hours of in-person voting could be reallocated to another day. The Ohio Association of Election Officials has been requesting the change. The proposal would also limit drop boxes for mail-in ballots to 10 days before Election Day instead of the entire early voting period. Each county board of elections could have three receptacles on their premises. Boards could have one drop boxfor the entire early voting period during a pandemic or emergency. Ohio lawmakers approved the use of drop boxes during the COVID-19 pandemic when Ohio’s primary shifted to mail ballots rather than in-person voting. Several judges ruled that Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose was allowed to set rules on how drop boxes were used, but he deferred to lawmakers.

Full Article: Ohio election bill: Limit drop boxes, allow online ballot requests

Ohio Supreme Court takes case over Dominion voting machines purchase | Andrew Welsh-Huggins/Associated Press

A dispute over the purchase of voting machines tied to unfounded allegations of fraud in the 2020 presidential election has reached the Ohio Supreme Court. At issue before the high court is a feud over the purchase of Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems machines between the bipartisan elections board in Stark County and that northeastern county’s GOP-dominated board of commissioners. Dominion machines became a flashpoint during the election because of unfounded allegations that the company changed votes through algorithms in its voting machines that had been created in Venezuela to rig elections for the late dictator Hugo Chavez. Dominion has pushed back against these allegations, including in a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit filed last month against Fox News, arguing the cable news giant falsely claimed that the voting company rigged the 2020 election in an effort to boost faltering ratings. Because of such claims promoted by on-air Fox personalities, the company is now widely targeted by conservatives who falsely believe it manufactured former President Donald Trump’s defeat, the lawsuit said. This conspiracy theory even reached Stark County, the elections board alleged in its complaint to the Ohio Supreme Court last month.

Full Article: Ohio Supreme Court takes case over voting machines purchase

Ohio: Progressive group circulates election bill; GOP lawmaker says it’s not final | Jessie Balmert Anna Staver/Cincinnati Enquirer

A progressive group published a draft of an Ohio election overhaul that would eliminate a day of early voting, require more forms of identification to vote early in person and allow drop boxes only during a statewide emergency. However, Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Green Township, says that draft won’t turn into proposed legislation. “What you have is not what will be introduced,” said Seitz, one of several lawmakers working on changes to Ohio election law. “Drafts are drafts. That’s all they are.” What changes will be introduced? Seitz wouldn’t share any details, but Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney, D-Cleveland, said the fact that a draft like that exists at all says something about the “misguided notions” of her Republican colleagues. “They have had these false notions of we need to have more strict voter ID laws because of voter fraud, and that’s just not true,” Sweeney said. “That’s a lie, and it’s part of voter suppression.” Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican, has pushed for a way to request mail-in ballots online, the ability to update voter information at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and direction on how many ballot collection drop boxes each county should allow.

Full Article: Progressive group circulates Ohio election bill; GOP lawmaker says it’s not final

Ohio Supreme Court outlines deadlines for voting machine case | Cassandra Nist/The Canton Repository

The Ohio Supreme Court has laid out its calendar for hearing the Stark County Dominion voting machine dispute. There won’t be a ruling before the primary election on May 4 but Stark County Board of Election had hoped to buy the new voting machines in time for elections later this year. The elections board has until April 26 to file all its evidence and legal briefs. Stark County commissioners have until May 10 to file its briefs, then the BOE must respond by May 14. The Ohio Supreme court noted the clerk of court shall refuse to file any requests for a time extension. “Whether this case is heard quickly or on a normal timetable, we’re confident that the law and evidence support the position of the county commissioners. They have the ability and the duty to carefully review recommended expenditure to ensure taxpayers are getting the best value,” attorney Mark Weaver, who represents county commissioners, said Monday. The elections board filed the 69-page lawsuit in the Ohio Supreme Court, and a motion to expedite the case due to a “fast approaching election-related deadline of June 15, 2021.” The board is seeking an order from the Supreme Court directing county commissioners to acquire Dominion Voting Systems Image Cast X machines, The bipartisan elections board unanimously voted to buy the new machines for use in Stark County’s elections nearly four months ago. The machines, according to the complaint, are similar to the voting machines that the county has used since 2005 and competitive in price.

Full Article: Ohio Supreme Court outlines deadlines for voting machine case

Ohio: Get COVID-19 vaccine and vote at Hamilton County Board of Elections all at once. Vax & Vote seeks to increase voter turnout and COVID-19 immunity. | Scott Wartman/Cincinnati Enquirer

Ever wonder if there’s a way to both support democracy and help end a pandemic without having to make two trips? There is, the Hamilton County Board of Elections said in a statement Thursday. Officials with the board of elections and Hamilton County Public Health Department hope to boost turnout out in the May 4 primary and COVID-19 vaccination rates with a Vax & Vote initiative. Early voting at the Hamilton County Board of Elections office in Norwood started April 6 for the primary that features the Cincinnati mayoral race and some local levies. The board of elections also happens to house Hamilton County’s central COVID-19 vaccination site. The county health department has administered the vaccine in the 15,000-square-foot space at 2300 Wall Street in the same Norwood office complex as the board of elections. The board of elections rented the space in 2020 for early voting.

Full Article: Get COVID-19 vaccine and vote at Hamilton County Board of Elections

Ohio: Stark County Board of Elections filed a lawsuit in Ohio Supreme Court | Cassandra Nist/The Canton Repository

The Stark County Board of Elections has followed through on its promise to file a lawsuit against county commissioners for refusing to fund the purchase of Dominion voting machines.The elections board filed the 69-page complaint Friday in the Ohio Supreme Court, and a motion Monday to expedite the case due to a “fast approaching election-related deadline of June 15, 2021.” The board is seeking an order from the Supreme Court directing county commissioners to acquire Dominion Voting Systems Image Cast X machines. The bipartisan elections board unanimously voted to adopt the machines for use in Stark County’s elections nearly four months ago. The machines, according to the complaint, are similar to the voting machines that the county has used since 2005 and competitive in price. The board wanted commissioners to approve upfront funding of about $1.5 million to purchase 1,450 Dominion touchscreen voting machines and other voting equipment. The state is providing another $3.27 million to finance the purchase. However, Commissioners Bill Smith, Richard Regula and Janet Weir Creighton, all Republicans, voted last month against accepting the Dominion recommendation and have questioned the cost.

Full Article: Stark County Board of Elections filed a lawsuit in Ohio Supreme Court

Ohio: Stark County commissioners refuse demand to fund Dominion voting machines | Robert Wang/The Canton Repository

Facing the threat of an imminent lawsuit from the Stark County Board of Elections, county commissioners stated they would not be complying with the board’s demand to approve funding by Wednesday for new Dominion voting machines. Commissioner Bill Smith, president of the three-member board of commissioners, read a statement shortly before the board adjourned at the conclusion of its regular Wednesday meeting. “Since March 10th, the Board of Elections has not submitted any new information, or new analysis to the commissioners. What has been missing during this process, or at least it has never been shared with the commissioners and the public, is a comprehensive and transparent review of all the available and state-approved voting systems, including a side-by-side comparison and analysis of the pros and cons of each voting system. Back in December, the commissioners requested much of this information, but it was never provided. Also missing has been any kind of vigorous negotiation by the Board of Elections with voting systems vendors to ensure Stark County taxpayers are getting the best bargain for their money,” the statement said. “Regrettably, none of these things have changed since March 10th, therefore, this board (of commissioners) will not be taking any new action today.” Neither Board of Elections Chairman Samuel Ferruccio nor the Board of Elections’ Columbus-based election law attorney, Don McTigue, could immediately be reached for comment. An email seeking comment was sent to Dominion. The commissioners issued their statement a day after meeting either in person or by teleconference with attorneys in executive session to discuss pending or imminent court action.

Full Article: Stark commissioners refuse to comply with voting machines demand

Ohio: Stark County Board of Elections chair responds to commissioners’ refusal to fund voting machines | Robert Wang/ The Canton Repository

The Stark County Board of Elections isn’t going to back down in its dispute with county commissioners over the purchase of Dominion voting machines. That was the indication Thursday morning from Samuel Ferruccio, chairman of the Stark County Board of Elections. The board has threatened to file a lawsuit against commissioners over the issue. He read a statement at the end of the regularly scheduled Board of Elections’ meeting: “The Board of Elections appreciates the Stark County commissioners’ duties and responsibilities under the law. The Board of Elections also has a responsibility under the law to make purchases and selections of many items during the year. Protect the rights of our citizens to vote in a fair, efficient and impartial manner. This includes selecting voting equipment. I believe the evidence will show if we cannot resolve this matter that we have made our selection in a bipartisan and transparent manner.” The Board of Elections has two Republicans and two Democrats, and all votes on the Dominion machines issue have been unanimous. The commissioners’ Columbus-based attorney, Mark Weaver, issued this statement by email in response:

Full Article: Stark County Board of Elections chair responds in Dominion dispute

Ohio: Stark County Elections Board gives county commissioners ultimatum over Dominion voting machines | Robert Wang/The Canton Repository

The Stark County Board of Elections moved Friday to initiate a lawsuit against the county commissioners if they don’t approve funding to buy Dominion voting machines by their regular board meeting next week. The vote during the special five-minute meeting was 3-0 by Chairman Samuel Ferruccio, Kody Gonzalez and William Cline. Board member Curt Braden abstained. It’s not clear why, but he’s a regional director for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. Braden could not immediately be reached for comment. Ferruccio, besides being the board chairman and an attorney, is the chairman for the Stark County Democratic Party, and Gonzalez is the county Democratic Party’s vice chair. Braden is a former Stark County Republican Party chairman, and Cline, an attorney, is a Republican. In Ohio, each of its 88 counties have an elections board that has two Democrats and two Republicans and each staff position of the boards of elections have a Democratic and Republican counterpart.

Full Article: Elections board to sue if commissioners don’t act on voting machines

Ohio: Stark County Board of Elections to sue over Dominion voting machine purchase | Robert Wang/The Canton Repository

The Stark County Board of Elections voted unanimously Monday to initiate a lawsuit against the county commissioners to compel them to fund the purchase of Dominion voting machines. The board met twice in executive session before announcing its decision. After the first executive session, which lasted about 20 minutes, board members said they would not consider the commissioners’ apparent suggestion that they consider an updated price quote by Dominion’s competitor, Election Systems and Software. Commissioner Bill Smith had invited ES&S to submit a new quote, which ended up being about $143,000 less than Dominion’s over a 10-year period, according to resolution language released by the commissioners last week. “I think it’s unfair to consider ES&S. We have no inclination to revisit the decision and recommendation that we made previously,” said Samuel Ferruccio, chairman of the Stark County Board of Elections and chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party. “When presented to our board, Dominion Voting Systems’ bid was lower than ES&S. The commissioners took it upon themselves to contact the company (ES&S) our board did not select and accepted a revised bid. That decision was ill advised and detrimental to the integrity of the process.” Board member William Cline, a Republican, agreed, saying “it was manifestly unfair to other bidders to allow a losing bidder to come in and take another bite at the apple. I think at best, unfair, and arguably not ethical either to solicit the bid or to make.” Board member Curt Braden, a Republican, said: “They’re (ES&S is) looking to sell us some used equipment, and we’re looking to buy new equipment.” Braden referred to the fact ES&S’s revised bid included two refurbished ballot scanners with warranties where Dominion was offering to sell the county new ballot scanners.

Full Are: Stark Board of Elections to sue over Dominion voting machine purchase

Ohio County Rejects Dominion Voting Systems After Trump Supporters Balk | Jaclyn Diaz/NPR

The three person Board of Stark County Commissioners in Ohio rejected the purchase of more than 1,400 new Dominion voting machines. The county’s Board of Elections had recommended the purchase, but the three members voted to withhold the money for the purchase following pressure from supporters of former President Trump, who falsely accused the machines of manipulating vote tallies in President Biden’s favor. For months, local Trump supporters in Stark County, home to Canton, voiced their complaints and beliefs about Dominion voting machines. County Commissioner Bill Smith said in February that the response from local residents on whether to purchase new voting machines “far exceeded the response any of us have received on any topic to come before our board.” Commissioners Smith, Janet Weir Creighton, and Richard Regula voted against the Board of Elections recommendations to buy the machines on Wednesday, saying they had to weigh the long-term viability of the purchase. The commissioners’ resolution said, “Whenever there exists a potential cloud…or public perception or concern regarding a vendor’s long-term viability, regardless of the cause or reason, the County must take a vendor’s long-term viability into account” when spending millions of dollars of taxpayer money. Trump and many of his inner circle helped to create that cloud. His camp continued to spread the falsehood that Dominion machines changed votes even after multiple audits and recounts in several states and counties that used the company’s equipment showed there were no issues with the machines. Now it’s clear that disinformation campaign has had a direct impact on the company’s business. Officials in at least one other state, Louisiana, have backed off plans to purchase Dominion voting machines following pressure campaigns from residents, according to The Advocate.

Full Article: Stark County Commissioners Reject Dominion Voting Machine Buy : NPR

Ohio: Stark County commissioners reject Dominion voting machine purchase | Robert Wang/The Canton Repository

The Stark County commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday afternoon to reject funding the purchase of 1,450 new Dominion touch-screen voting machines. Commissioners Bill Smith, Richard Regula and Janet Weir Creighton, all Republicans, voted against accepting a recommendation by the Stark County Board of Elections to fund the purchase. None of them commented during the teleconference meeting. All of them said from December to February that dozens to hundreds of Trump’s supporters in Stark County contacted the commissioners, who have to approve all major spending by the county, urging them to block or scrutinize the purchase more closely. Then-President Donald Trump and his allies have alleged without credible evidence that the Dominion voting machines were hacked or counted votes inaccurately and contributed to him losing the election. While the resolution the commissioners voted down said Dominion had a “potential cloud” over its “long-term viability” apparently due to the unsubstantiated allegations, the resolution avoided delving into those allegations and instead raised questions about whether Dominion’s price quote was superior to competitors. The resolution said, the commissioner have “to conduct the business of the county with due diligence when spending (citizen’s) hard-earned money, without rubber-stamping recommendations that come before it, and to seriously investigate the cost, trustworthiness, long-term viability, and other aspects of any voting system to be purchased to ensure Stark county is obtaining the best value.” On Wednesday, county’s budget director, Chris Nichols, said that cost figures provided by the Board of Elections did not give a full picture of the price quotes for voting equipment by Dominion and its competitor Elections Systems & Software. The Board of Elections said ES&S voting machines would cost the county $2.02 million more than Dominion’s, mainly due to a $1.7 million trade-in credit Dominion was offering. The county cost would be $1.48 million for Dominion and $3.5 million for ES&S.  But Nichols said the Board of Elections’ numbers did not include the cost of maintenance, support and software licensing over 10 years. “I was unable to get my numbers to match up,” Nichols said.

Full Article: Stark County commissioners reject Dominion voting machine purchase

Ohio: Stark County commissioners to decide Dominion Voting machine purchase | Robert Wang/The Canton Repository

Stark County commissioners expect to make a decision by March 15 on whether to approve buying Dominion voting machines for the general election in November, said Commissioner Bill Smith. A vote could take place on Wednesday at the three-member board’s weekly teleconference meeting, he said. It would be up to Stark County Administrator Brant Luther by Tuesday whether to put the item on the Wednesday agenda. Smith said he has not yet decided if he’ll vote to approve the purchase. Commissioners have met a few times in closed-door sessions to discuss the purchase of public property and met with the county’s attorneys to discuss possible imminent court action. Smith declined to confirm if they discussed the voting machines purchase in executive session. On Dec. 9, the Stark County Board of Elections, made up of two Republicans and two Democrats, voted unanimously to buy 1,450 Dominion ImageCast touchscreen voting machines as part of a $6.45 million order from Dominion Voting Systems. The state would cover $3.27 million of the cost. Dominion has offered to extend a $1.71 million trade-in credit on old voting machines, leaving the county’s share around $1.5 million. Dominion’s competitor Elections Systems and Software was offering to sell touchscreen voting machines that would cost the county more than double, or $3.5 million. However, then-President Donald Trump and his allies have alleged without credible evidence that the Dominion voting machines were hacked or counted votes inaccurately and contributed to him losing the election.

Full Article: Stark County commissioners to decide Dominion Voting machine purchase

Ohio: Trump’s Baseless 2020 Conspiracies Complicate Stark County’s Effort To Buy Voting Machines | Nick Castelle/NPR

A conspiracy theory sown by former President Donald Trump and his allies to cast doubt on his loss last year has trickled down to county-level politics, impeding one Ohio county’s ability to purchase new voting equipment ahead of local elections this year. The theory falsely claims voting machines made by a company called Dominion changed votes to swing the election in favor of now-President Biden. Multiple audits and recounts in states and counties that used the company’s equipment confirmed that the machines accurately recorded the vote totals last November. But those audits and recounts haven’t stopped Republican county officials in Stark County, Ohio, home to Canton, from slowing the procurement effort for new machines. Voters in the county twice voted for Barack Obama then twice — by double digits — for Donald Trump. The controversy started in December, when the bipartisan Stark County Board of Elections voted unanimously to replace its aging voting machines with new ones from Dominion. Since that vote, the county’s three top elected officials, all Republicans, say they’ve been getting an earful from voters.

Full Article: The Real World Impact Of A Voting Machine Conspiracy Theory : NPR

Ohio elections chief again orders limit on ballot drop boxes | Julie Carr Smyth/Associated Press

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has reissued a contentious order limiting the number of ballot drop boxes to one per county for the May 4 primary. In a directive issued late Friday, the Republican elections chief set the limit in the context of a federal court opinion describing Ohio’s absentee voting options as “generous.” “Even though Ohio law does not explicitly provide for the use of secure receptacles, commonly known as ‘drop boxes,’ for an absentee voter to return their ballot to the director,” he wrote, “this Directive, once again, provides for the continued use of secure receptacles outside of the boards of elections.” A virtually identical order LaRose put in place for the 2020 election drew fierce criticism from the Ohio Democratic Party, voting and civil rights groups, labor unions and several Ohio cities, leading to litigation. The state GOP, the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Trump for America campaign sided with LaRose in court. While courts allowed that order to stand, one describing Ohio’s restrictions as “reasonable and nondiscriminatory,” they rejected the argument LaRose had advanced publicly that he needed additional authority from the Legislature to expand drop boxes to multiple locations — because they’d initially established them on a one-time basis. Still, spokesperson Maggie Sheehan said in a statement on the new order that LaRose is maintaining the status quo while “the newly seated General Assembly takes up the question of the time, manner and location of alternative means for voters to return absentee ballots other than the United States Postal Service.”

Full Article: Ohio elections chief again orders limit on ballot drop boxes