Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Those Provisional Ballots

We still don't have an official winner in the November 7th election for the 15th congressional district. The counting of provisional ballots and absentee ballots will begin on Sunday, November 19th, after the Ohio State Buckeye game (Dispatch). However, even before the counting begins Republicans like Kenneth Blackwell and Matthew Damschroder are jockeying as to which ballots will be disqualified.

Blackwell and Damschroder will both do whatever they can to throw out those ballots that might add to the total of Democratic challenger, Mary Jo Kilroy. Blackwell is well-known as the individual who gave recent elections to the Bush-Cheney campaigns.

Damschroder, as this Dispatch article reports in 2005, was offered a $10,000 check from Diebold which he gave to the Republican Party. Here are some excerpts from that 2005 Dispatch article:

A contractor who represents Diebold Election Systems arrived at the office of Franklin County Board of Elections Director Matthew Damschroder with an open checkbook on the same day the county was opening bids for voter-registration software.

Pasquale "Pat" Gallina arrived unannounced, Damschroder said.

"I’m here to give you $10,000," the elections director recalls Gallina saying. "Who do I make it payable to?"

"Well, you’re certainly not going to make it out to me," Damschroder says he told Gallina. "But I’m sure the Franklin County Republican Party would appreciate a donation."

Gallina wrote the check, and Damschroder says he took it on Jan. 9, 2004. That weekend, Damschroder said, he mailed the check to the county party. Damschroder had been executive director of the party until June 2003, when he was appointed director of the elections board.

Diebold, the highest of four bidders, didn’t get the software contract, and Damschroder says he never recommended the company.

Gallina said yesterday that the $10,000 was his money and had nothing to do with Diebold. He said he’s always supported county Republican parties in areas where he lives....

>This 2005 article from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, explains what happened to Damschroder:

The Franklin County Board of Elections has suspended its elections director Matt Damschroder, for forwarding a $10,000 check from a Diebold representative to the Republican party. Damschroder was suspended without pay for 30 days, but not fired. The Cleveland Plain-Dealer has this story. He'll continue to work but will be docked approximately $11,000 for his ethical lapse.

As noted in Sunday's post, Damschroder admitted that Paschale Gallina, a consultant working for Diebold, gave him the check which he in turn forwarded to the county Republican Party -- something Damschroder now acknowledges was a mistake. The board's chair William Anthony, a Democrat, says that Damschroder has done a good job for the county and made an error in judgment, but didn't take a bribe.

Still unresolved is whether Gallina also gave $50,000 to Secretary of State Ken Blackwell's "political interests," and (possibly in return) worked out a deal with Blackwell's consultants on the price that Ohio would pay for Diebold voting machines. Blackwell's consultant, Norm Cummings, denies that any such conversations occurred. ES&S is reportedly seeking to take Cummings' deposition in its lawsuit against the Secretary of State.

A little money given here, a little money given there, and then the Republicans count the votes. How will the Mr. Damschroder and his Republicans count the votes this year in Franklin County's Board of Elections? How will Mr. Blackwell help disqualify some of the ballots?