By Frank Lewis
Two citizens of Valley Township have filed a court case against the Scioto County Board of Elections and the Valley Township Board of Trustees charging fraud in the May primary election in which voters passed by one vote a 2.85 mills bond levy totalling $1.8 million for the purpose of constructing a community services building and furnishing and equipping that facility. The complaint was filed on Friday afternoon.
The two residents, Dwayne Hood and Clyde E. Gilliland, produced a petition containing 42 signatures challenging the outcome of the election. The plaintiffs in the case charge there was fraud and irregularity at the election in that one or more votes were cast illegally at the election “because the person or persons who cast them were not qualified electors of Valley Township.”
Following the May election, the final tally was within the one-half of one percent, which triggered an automatic recount and the final margin in the recount which was certified by the Board of Elections was 196-195.
The plaintiffs went on to charge that the fraudulently cast vote or votes were in favor of the resolution and without the invalid vote or votes the resolution would not have passed.
“The plaintiffs/contestors state that the fraud was so great and flagrant as to render the election resolution doubtful, as just one or more fraudulent votes cast in favor of passage caused the resolution to pass when it otherwise would have failed,” the complaint stated.
“They filed a lawsuit saying one of the people voted fraudulently, and I can assure you when it is all said and done he did not,” Valley Township Volunteer Fire Department Chief Teri Horton said. “We had two public meetings and it was all written out from the get-go. We have had legal counsel that does nothing but this kind of stuff and we paid lots of money — thousands of dollars — for them to walk us through this election. It put it all out there in black and white.”
Horton said if the election is thrown out the township will have to spend more money to have it put back on the ballot.
‘My fire department is broken. They are broken,” Horton said. “I don’t know what they’ll do from here on out.”
Horton said one of the objections to the levy came as a result of people not believing the ISO ratings. The ISO ratings help establish appropriate fire insurance premiums for residential and commercial properties, insurance companies need reliable, up-to-date information about a community’s fire-protection services.
“If you don’t have what’s required by the Insurance Service Office your ISO rating goes up and that means not matter who you are or who you have insurance with your insurance will increase if our fire department doesn’t meet their standards,” Horton said.
As of Monday afternoon the Board of Elections had not seen the complaint filed in the Scioto County Clerk of Courts Office.
“We’ve not been formally notified,” Scioto County Board of Elections Deputy Director Teresa Knittel said. “Just from heresay we are hearing that there was a man they’re saying that voted illegally and that he does not live in Valley Township. Until we get a formal notification I really don’t know that much about it. All I know is they said something was filed.”
The legal document calls for the election to be set aside and was filed by Portsmouth attorney Eddie Edwards on behalf of the plaintiffs, and no date for a hearing has been set.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.