Otway mayor finds fault with election

By Wayne Allen

November 6, 2013

Wayne Allen

PDT Staff Writer

The Village of Otway had two levies on the Tuesday, Nov. 5 ballot for residents of the village to consider. Otway Mayor Suzanne Nichols said she is receiving reports from residents they received the wrong ballots when voting and voted on Brush Creek Township issues unknowingly.

“I’m going to talk with Beth Malone (of the Scioto County Board of Elections) tomorrow (Thursday). Otway Village and Brush Creek Township vote together (in the same precinct), but there are two different ballots.” Nichols said. “Amy and Mike Eichenlaub voted after she got home from work, which is somewhere around 4 p.m. that’s when that mistake was caught. Mike caught that his ballot was wrong, but Amy had already put hers in the box. She said there was nothing on her ballot for the Otway village what so ever, so she had a Brush Creek ballot.”

Nichols said she wonders how many people before the Eichenlaubs were given the wrong ballot.

“The poll worker did not catch it, it was the voter who caught it,” Nichols said. “There was a voter that went in at 6 p.m. and when they were given their ballot, from what I was told, the presiding judge asked the poll worker to ensure the ballot given was an Otway ballot. The presiding judge then told the poll worker, ‘we don’t want this to happen again,’”

When asked if she was going to pursue this issue through the board of elections, Nichols said, “Absolutely. It’s got to be fixed, that can’t happen.”

She said this is significant and especially when there is a tie vote on one of the levies.

One of the two levies the village had on the ballot ended unofficially in a tie. The levy for current expenses had 13 votes for the levy and 13 votes against the levy.

The new village levy for fire protection passed with 15 votes for the levy, and 11 against the levy.

Nichols said the village levy for current expenses is used for maintenance, street lights and overall operations of the village.

“This levy has been renewed by voters for a number of years and is vital to continue services,” Nichols said. “If it turns out this did not pass we would have to cut something. I don’t know what, we have not had a meeting to discuss it.”

She said the fire protection levy will aid the village fire department in constructing a new station.

“According to the fire chief, the ground work for the new station is just about ready to start and once the ground work is done, things should progress faster than what they have been,” Nichols said. “We have gotten all of the necessary approvals and everything is a go to start.”

She said part of the project is being funded through the insurance money the village received when a tornado damaged a portion of the Otway Fire Department.

Nichols said once the building is completed and operational, the fire department will operate off of the funding generated by the levy.

“We’re going from a three bay, double-decker building into a bigger building that will cost more to run. That was the reason for the levy,” Nichols said.

The levy for the current expenses will be recounted by the Scioto County Board of Elections at a later date.

Randy Basham, Chairman of the Scioto County Board of Elections, said the issue Nichols detailed was not brought to his attention during the election.

“Not to my knowledge there has not been (ballot mix-ups). I’m chairman of the board and it had not been brought to my attention so, Julia (Gearheart, Director of the Scioto County Board of Elections) will be back in the morning (Thursday) and you can see what her knowledge of it is,” Basham said.

When told of Nichols’ intent to take this matter to the Board of Elections Basham said, “We’ll entertain any complaint they have.”

He said the only issue he is aware of in Tuesday’s election was in Rarden.

“The trustees were left off the village ballot. Two people had voted (when the error was caught), so we called the secretary of states office and they approved for us to redo the ballots. We have the ballots on demand there in the office, so we corrected the ballot and sent it back out,” Basham said. “Those two people, who had voted that morning, agreed to come back in and vote on the correct ballot.”

For more information about the Scioto County Board of Elections visit www.electionsonthe.net/oh/scioto.

Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or tallen@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.