Voter Registrations Shredded in Hocking County OH?
Ten Thousand Voter Registration Documents May Have Been Shredded in Hocking County, Ohio
by Bob Fitrakis
July 13, 2005
Members of the Progressive Ohio Backbone Campaign traveled to Hocking County on Monday morning, July 11, and filed criminal charges with the Hocking County Sheriff’s Department against the county’s Board of Elections (BOE) Director Lisa Schwartze.
Schwartze had previously admitted at the July 5 BOE meeting that she had used the office to promote a Republican Party fund- raiser last fall. The charges filed against Schwartze, however, do not to pertain to Schwartze’s use of the BOE office for partisan political fund-raising. Rather, the charges filed pertain to her alleged illegal shredding of election documents, the Free Press has learned.
Sherole Eaton, the fired Hocking County BOE deputy director and Congressional whistleblower, who swore an affidavit against a Triad company technician for allegedly offering a cheat sheet and replacing the county’s central voting tabulator hard drive during last year’s presidential recount, says that Schwartze may have destroyed up to “ten thousand documents.”
“I told her that she couldn’t shred and delete the changes of addresses that were coming in from registered voters during the election year, but she wouldn’t listen to me,” Eaton explained, “In order for Lisa to destroy those documents, she’s got to go to the Board of Elections, state officials, and then ask the Ohio Historical Society if they want them. And even then, she can only destroy them according to a public records retention schedule that requires they are kept for four years.”
Eaton says that all investigators would have to do is ask Schwartze for hard copies of the change of address forms to verify her allegations.
Eaton also claimed that she told BOE President Gerald Robinette of Schwartze’s action including her use of the office for Republican fund-raising purposes and the Democratic Board Chair said, “Let’s not go public with it. We can use it for blackmail purposes later.”
“I think he thought of it as some form of political leverage, but I really didn’t understand why he didn’t investigate activity that is obviously illegal,” Eaton said.
Eaton told the Free Press that Schwartze, a Republican, and Robinette had hand-picked a Democratic replacement for her job who was the wife of a prominent Republican and had no history of voting in Democratic primaries.
A hastily called Hocking County BOE meeting on Monday, July 11 went into a private executive session to discuss legal issues concerning Eaton’s firing and a temporary restraining order (TRO) prohibiting the BOE from replacing Eaton. Cliff Arnebeck, an Alliance for Democracy attorney, obtained the TRO from Judge Gerkin and served the Board at the July 5 meeting.
The Logan Daily News ran a front page article following the July 5 BOE meeting which included Schwartze’s admissions that she had coordinated a Republican auction out of her office. The Columbus Dispatch, in a front page Metro story on July 9, wrote that Schwartze “used the government office downtown as a collection drop for items being donated to a silent auction featured at a Republican Party fundraiser last fall.”
Eaton told the Free Press that Schwartze used the BOE phones to coordinate the event and plan the catering. Schwartze publicly admitted using the phone for fund-raising purposes.
Arnebeck believes that the Hocking County prosecutor will agree to reinstate Eaton because of the obvious “retaliation” against Eaton for bringing allegations of illegalities to the Board. The Logan Daily News reported that Board members anonymously claim that Eaton is not a team player.
But Eaton told the Free Press, “Why should I be a team player if the director’s doing illegal things? She took an entire rotating file cabinet of registration documents including brand new changes of addresses and shredded the hard copy and deleted items on a computer. Why should I keep my mouth shut? And I really don’t understand the so-called Democrats that fire me after I blow the whistle.” Eaton said the document shredding occurred between the spring primary and the November 2 election last year.
Eaton, who is a 65-year-old widow, recently underwent unsuccessful brain surgery for an aneurysm and is concerned about a lack of health care. She says she appreciates the supporters who are standing up with her and believes that Democratic BOE officials in Hocking County definitely need “a backbone.”
Bob Fitrakis is the co-editor of Did George W. Bush Steal America’s 2004 Election? ( www.freepress.org) and co-counsel with Cliff Arnebeck in the Alliance for Democracy suit against the Hocking County Board of Elections.