One county in Ohio needed new voting machines. Election plots complicated everything
Columbus, Ohio – the next article was originally published in the Ohio Capital Journal and posted on News5Cleveland.com under a content sharing agreement.
The Ohio Supreme Court ruled last week that Stark County must buy voting machines from a company baselessly accused by the former president and his allies of rigging an election.
The dispute dates back to the December 2020 directive from the Stark County Electoral Board to the county commission to purchase its new machines from Dominion Voting Systems.
The board of directors, which generally controls these decisions, voted unanimously to acquire voting machines from Dominion. Stark County has been doing business with the company, the only supplier offering to buy back the county’s older machinery, since 2013.
The All-Republican County Commission, however, said other vendors were offering cheaper deals when analyzing the 10-year contract.
However, President Donald Trump’s repeated lie, echoed by allies with big media profiles like Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, lingers on the issue, that the Dominion machines have been used to repair the presidential election. Theories have changed shape, sometimes alleging a link between the national president and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013.
On March 10, the county commission overturned the council directive. In one resolution, the board raised primarily budgetary concerns, but noted a “potential cloud” or a “public perception or concern regarding the long-term viability of a supplier” regarding Dominion.
The election board, made up of four bipartisan council members and staff headed by the Stark County GOP chairman, criticized the decision.
“It is unfortunate that conspiracy theories which have been proven to be false apparently have more influence on the commissioners’ office than the professionals at the election office,” the council said in a statement. declaration to IdeaStream, a public broadcaster.
County Council Chairman Sam Ferrucio call for a local radio show, made similar comments.
“It’s all based on conspiracy theorists,” he said. “That’s where it comes from.”
A Ohio Secretary of State’s post-election audit found that the state’s presidential election results were 99.98 percent accurate. Trump won County Stark by around 18 points.
This winter, the three commissioners made public statements about a heavy load of appeals from Trump supporters over the generally esoteric issue of county-level voting machine supply. While the county council discusses conspiracy theories, the commissioners say they made a purely fiscal decision.
“For me, it was all budget concerns,” Commissioner Richard Regula said in an interview with the Ohio Capital Journal.
“Did we get a lot of calls, yes. This is the most calls, most emails I have ever received on a single issue. There were a lot of complaints there. Nothing has ever been proven to me. I heard a lot about Maricopa County, Arizona… I read the guy from MyPillow, looked at various things, but no one proved to me that someone had hacked a machine. No one has proven to me that the election was stolen. It was all about process. “
(In Maricopa County, Arizona, Republicans in the state Senate ordered a bizarre “audit” of votes that included a search for secret watermarks or traces of bamboo on the ballots that have been cast, either of which would indicate fraud. A partial recount and two electoral audits produced no evidence of electoral fraud in Arizona.)
Aaron Ockerman, director of the Ohio Election Officials Association, said it’s usually the decisions of election boards as to what counties buy from voting machines. As for what sparked the Stark County controversy, he said he does not accept budget concerns.
“What made things happen was certainly the angst of the moment surrounding Dominion Voter Systems,” he said.
The council, irritated by the refusal of the commission, filed a complaint with the Ohio Supreme Court, seeking to force the commission to buy Dominion machines. The aim was to implement them for the primary elections on May 4.
The tribunal was left to answer a somewhat narrow legal question of who has the power to choose a county’s electoral technology, between the election board or the county commission.
In a 6-1 decision, the judges found it was in the electoral boards. However, election officials said they would not be able to implement the new machines until a special congressional election in August.
To complicate matters further, on May 18, an organization called Look Ahead America filed a complaint with the Stark County Common Plea Court, alleging violations of the open meeting laws while the Elections Office deliberated on the Dominion issue.
Look ahead of America was founded by Matt Braynard, a former Trump campaign staffer. The group would also contest the presidential election of Georgia results. Although the lawsuit focuses on alleged open meeting violations, Braynard raised several issues with the use of Dominion machines during an interview.
He said some Look Ahead America staff were also working on the Arizona audit.
“Some of the people who work in our organization also work on audit, but we have nothing to do with it,” he said. “I can’t wait for this to end, because all those people who volunteer for this, I can’t wait to get them to volunteer for my organization on voter registration and grassroots organizing.
A Dominion spokeswoman made a statement but declined specific questions.
“We appreciate the decision of [Supreme] Court and we look forward to continuing our long-standing support for County Stark in his election, ”the company said.
The dispute speaks of the collateral damage of Trump’s lie that he lost the election solely because of voter fraud. A April 2021 Reuters / Ipsos poll found 55% of Republicans believe Trump’s loss in 2020 was the result of illegal voting or vote rigging. Domination filed several lawsuits, still pending, against Fox News attorneys Lindell and Trump Giuliani and Sidney Powell, all focused on their alleged perpetuation of the lie.
Republicans in the U.S. Senate, minus a few defections, scuttled an effort to establish an independent bipartisan commission to investigate the origins of a seditious mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6 on Friday. rigged election, sought to thwart Congressional certification of the election.
Regula said he ultimately has confidence that the Dominion machines will hold free and fair elections. He said Ohio held a proper election in 2020. He said there could have been “shenanigans” in other states, but largely declined to comment on whether there had been voter fraud. widespread in 2020.
“I’m not going to take this route. It’s behind us, ”he said. “Biden is President of the United States. Republicans are going to have to work harder in the midterm elections, harder in the presidential elections of 2024. We just need to get on with it.
Stark County Electoral Board Director Jeff Matthews, along with the other two county commissioners, did not respond to inquiries.