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Fitrakis: Fired OH Election Board Staffer Defiant

Fired Ohio Election Board Staffer Defiant Over "Retribution"


By Bob Fitrakis
From: http://www.freepress.org/columns/display/3/2005/1131

Sherole Eaton is as defiant as ever and determined to stand up for democracy. Despite recovering from recent carotic artery surgery and scheduled for brain surgery on June 6 for a brain aneurysm, Eaton, perhaps Ohio’s most well-known whistleblower, refuses to resign as Deputy Director of the Hocking County Board of Elections.

Eaton made national news last December during Ohio’s election recount when she swore in an affidavit that a Triad voting machine technician replaced the hard drive on Hocking County’s central “computer and tabulation machine.”

“I still can’t understand what he was doing there on his own time replacing the hard drive on our computer, our brain, where all the county’s voting information was, in the middle of a recount,” Eaton offered.

Lisa Schwartze, Director of the Hocking County Board of Elections, told the Free Press that Eaton has until June 30 to resign. Initially she told the paper that Eaton was “on vacation” but, the Logan Daily News reported that Eaton was fired on Thursday, May 19 after a five hour meeting.

With more than two dozen Eaton supporters in attendance, the “bipartisan board” voted to terminate Eaton as of June 30, while she’ll still be recovering from surgery.

Franklin County Board of Elections Chair, Democrat William Anthony has recently questioned just how “Democratic” are some of these southern county Democratic election board members.

U.S. Representative John Conyers (D-MI) sent a letter to Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell protesting Eaton’s firing. “Last fall, Ms. Eaton bravely came forward to report that a representative of Triad, Inc., had behaved suspiciously, and appeared to tamper with computers and appeared to create ‘cheat sheets’ for those who were supposed to be conducting hand recount,” the letter stated. Rep. Conyers’ letter concludes that “Eaton’s firing was solely out of retaliation.”

Eaton concurs: “They’re firing me because I’m a whistleblower, because I wouldn’t keep quiet. This isn’t the type of area where people demonstrate. Everyone pretty much keeps quiet and goes along.”

The Hocking County Board of Elections points out that all board employees serve “at will” and may be hired and fired without reason. Under Ohio state law all board of election members who are attempting to fire Eaton, serve at the pleasure of Secretary of State Blackwell.

The next Hocking County Board of Elections meeting is planned for Thursday evening, May 26.

In the run up to the controversial 2004 Ohio election and its immediate aftermath, more than one board of election member has come under fire. In Auglaize County, the Democratic Deputy Director resigned a few weeks prior to the election after he complained that an unauthorized ES&S voting machine company employee accessed the county’s main voting computer, violating protocol.

On April 15, Blackwell fired the Auglaize County Elections Director Jean Burklo. All four Auglaize Elections Board members signed a letter to the Wapakoneta Daily News questioning Blackwell’s motives. The letter reads, in part, “It is the opinion of the board that a representative of the Office of the Secretary of State has a personal vendetta against former Director Jean Burklo for some reason, which he implemented against Ms. Burklo and the Board to his capacity with the Secretary of State’s Office.”

In Trumbull County, long-time Board of Elections Director Norma Williams resigned her position during the recount after complying with a directive from Blackwell to lock down and keep from public view all previously public poll books. Blackwell also forced the resignation of three of the four Lucas County Board of Elections members shortly after the 2004 election, blaming them for procedural problems that plagued the Toledo-area balloting.

With the recount still being appealed in federal court, the public is still barred from accessing public records from the 2004 election. More than 92,000 overvotes and undervotes on paper ballots remain unexamined, two-thirds of those from heavily Democratic wards. These ballots were automatically rejected by electronic tabulators, and remain uncounted as part of the final official vote count for the Ohio presidential election.

A call by Freepress.org to Gerald Robinette, chair of the Hocking County Election Board, was not answered at press time.

*************

Bob Fitrakis is co-editor, with Steve Rosenfeld and Harvey Wasserman, of DID GEORGE W. BUSH STEAL AMERICA'S 2004 ELECTION?, available at www.freepress.org.


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