Fears of voter fraud unfounded

Published: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 @ 7:22 PM
Updated: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 @ 7:22 PM

Coming Sunday

Now that the election results are final, we compare local vote results to past elections and to the rest of the country.

Local election results that were certified Monday and Tuesday appear to show that pre-election warnings of widespread voter fraud or significant voter disenfranchisement did not come to pass.

Some political groups — usually conservative-leaning — warned of double-voting and challenged hundreds of voters’ eligibility. But a review of six local counties — Montgomery, Greene, Warren, Clark, Butler and Miami — where 751,795 people cast ballots shows only two cases where election officials referred a voter to the prosecutor’s office for investigation.

“I don’t know where people hear these horror stories (of fraud), but we haven’t seen it around here” said Sally Pickarski, deputy director of the Clark County Board of Elections.

Other political groups — usually liberal-leaning — fought for more lenient rulings on counting provisional ballots, saying voters could be wronged if their provisional ballots were thrown out.

But in those six counties, provisional ballots (which are used by voters whose eligibility is in question) were actually ruled valid at a higher rate than in the 2008 election.

According to boards of election in those six counties, 85.1 percent of provisional ballots were approved for the Nov. 6 election. Ohio Secretary of State data shows that in 2008, only 83.6 percent of those counties’ provisional ballots were validated.

“Those numbers do reflect well on how well the election was run,” said attorney Ellis Jacobs of the Miami Valley Voter Protection Coalition. “When you look at all the pieces of how an election is run, it’s very easy to get freaked out about it. There’s so many things that could go wrong, and some people … have a hard time seeing the big picture. When you look at the big picture, it works amazingly well.”

Possible fraud cases

The Montgomery County Board of Elections is turning two voting-related cases over to the prosecutor’s office for investigation, according to BOE Deputy Director Steve Harsman. No charges have been filed.

In one case, the BOE found that a man who voted provisionally in Montgomery County had already voted by regular ballot in Clark County, Harsman said. His Montgomery County ballot was thrown out.

In the other case, a Montgomery County man sent in a request for an absentee ballot on behalf of his father, but BOE officials found that the father had died months earlier.

Harsman said those two cases are proof of the safeguards in place to root out fraud.

“One thing we’ve proven over the years is that our results will hold up to any scrutiny,” he said.

The only two election-related convictions in Montgomery County this year involved people falsifying signatures on petitions, not casting improper votes in an election.

Tough calls

Boards of election, working in balanced teams of Democrats and Republicans, review problematic paper ballots where a voter’s intent may be difficult to determine because of unclear marks. Some voters wrote “count this one” or similar notes next to a cross-out on their ballot, making the board’s job easier. In other cases, Secretary of State directives may mandate whether a certain type of mark is counted.

One odd case this year involved 50 Montgomery County voters who cast provisional ballots, but BOE officials found they also had been checked off in the electronic pollbook (indicating that they had been given a card to vote on a machine).

Harsman, a Democrat, told the board that his experience and BOE research into the issue made him think these were cases where poll workers simply mis-categorized a voter who requested a paper ballot. But he admitted there was no way to be 100 percent sure that no one in that pile had voted twice.

The board discussed the issue for 10 minutes, with Republican BOE member Greg Gantt saying he was torn on whether to approve the ballots, weighing Harsman’s opinion against the possibility that his approval could OK a double-vote. The board eventually approved those 50-plus ballots unanimously.

Gantt emphasized that multiple Republican-Democrat teams review tough cases like this. He said his philosophical starting point has more to do with preventing improper votes, while Democrat BOE members he’s worked with are more focused on making people’s votes count if at all possible. But eventually, they reach agreement.

“It’s that balancing act between confidence in the results versus ensuring that everybody who wants to vote, can. And it’s tough,” Gantt said.

Added Democrat BOE member John Doll, “When it comes down to it, we had one guy who apparently tried to vote twice out of (267,000). Nothing’s perfect in the world and you may have one go through, but most of the time (fraud) is just not there.”

City to make $130,000 purchase to create Wilmington Pike parking lot

Published: Wednesday, May 24, 2017 @ 10:14 AM


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The city of Kettering passed a resolution Tuesday that will allow them to purchase the building at 3813 Wilmington Pike for $130,000.

City Economic Development Manager Gregg Gorsuch said the city’s primary plan is to demolish the existing building in favor of creating a parking lot for the adjacent office building at 3809 Wilmington Pike, though other options could be considered.

“Once we get control of the property we will definitely look at all the options to make sure that is the best one,” Gorsuch said.

Gorsuch said the building is currently occupied by American Family Insurance but that the tenant is looking to relocate.

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Council approves purchase of 305 acres of research park

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 4:04 PM
Updated: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 8:41 PM


            City of Kettering will purchase 305 acres of the Miami Valley Research Park for $1.5 million. FILE

UPDATE @ 7:50: Kettering City Council has approved the purchase of 305 acres at Miami Valley Research Park on a 7-0 vote.

Steve Johnson, president of Sinclair Community College and chairman of the Miami Valley Research Foundation, was in attendance and thanked council for their consideration of purchasing the land.

“It’s very important to us that good steward ship continue,” Johnson said. “We are so pleased that Kettering is considering this action tonight.”

EARLIER REPORT: Kettering city council is expected to vote tonight on the purchase of 305 acres in the Miami Valley Research Park.

RELATED: Kettering to purchase 305 acres of Miami Valley Research Park

Friday, the city announced its intentions to buy the land. If the purchase is approved, it could cost the city up to $3 million dollars.

The city has said acquiring the land could lead to luring new businesses and help current businesses expand within the city.

The business park spans over 1,200 acres in Kettering and Beavercreek and is home to some of the Miami Valley’s largest companies. In October, the Dayton Daily News reported that the Miami Valley Research Foundation was looking to sell four buildings and more than 700 acres of undeveloped land valued at $30 million.

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Kettering’s council meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Government Center, 3600 Shroyer Road.

Congressman Mike Turner target of national Democratic group

Published: Monday, May 22, 2017 @ 3:38 PM
Updated: Monday, May 22, 2017 @ 6:31 PM

Congressman Michael Turner (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

For the first time in more than a dozen years, the congressional seat now held by U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, is being targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has named 79 seats of more than 130 it plans to focus on in 2018.

Turner was one of 20 new targets the DCCC announced Monday. He is one of only two that voted against the recent Republican legislation to replace Obamacare.

Mark Owens, chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Party says the DCCC sees the 10th District as winnable for a Democrat in part because of the district makeup and also because of the current political climate.

RELATED: Look back at Turner’ 2016 race

The district includes all of Montgomery, Greene and part of Fayette County.

Turner’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

“I think it’s because even though it is a gerrymandered district it is less gerrymandered than some others around the country,” Owens said.

Owens said two potential candidates are already interested in challenging Turner in 2018 but he would not name them as he did not have their permission to do so.

RELATED: With protesters outside Republicans at local GOP dinner stress unity

“One is a West Point grad, Afghan/Iraq vet” and the other is a a local businesswoman, Owens said. He said one of the two “has some wealth and is going to put some money into” the race, which Owens expects will require $1 million to $1.5 million to be competitive.

Blaine Kelly, spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party, said Turner won by a large margin in the Nov. 2016 over teacher Robert Klepinger, a Democrat, and Huber Heights Mayor Thomas McMasters, an independent.

“The only explanation for the Democrats’ decision to target Congressman Turner, or any Republican seats in Ohio, is that they are gluttons for punishment. Congressman Turner’s constituents gave him a giant stamp of approval last November by reelecting him with sixty-four percent of the vote,” Kelly said. “Democrats can manufacture outrage when Republicans keep campaign promises, but they can’t fake votes.”

Turner’s seat is one of four in Ohio the DCCC believes can be taken from Republican incumbents in 2018. The others are U.S. Reps. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati, Bob Gibbs, R-Avon, and Dave Joyce, R-Russell Twp. Nearly all the targeted seats are held by the GOP and the others are open.

RELATED: Groups hold town hall without Rep. Mike Turner

Owens said a Democratic candidate can get logistical and fund-raising support from the DCCC in a targeted race. He thinks the last time Turner’s district was targeted was the year he won it in a 2002 battle against Democrat Rick Carne to replace longtime U.S. Rep. Tony Hall, D-Dayton.

“We’re incredibly excited that our national partners are expanding the map and targeting races like Ohio’s 10th Congressional District,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper.

The DCCC raised more than $9 million in April, beating previous records for the month, according to The Hill. However that’s about $1 million less than what was raised last month by Republicans.

Dayton Congressman Mike Turner files for divorce

Published: Friday, May 19, 2017 @ 3:34 PM
Updated: Friday, May 19, 2017 @ 6:23 PM

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner has filed for divorce from his wife, Majida, and asked that she be restrained from taking any of their assets, according to a divorce filing made Thursday in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas.

“Ms. Turner is guilty of a fraudulent contract,” according to the filing, which does not elaborate on what that means.

RELATED: Congressman Turner’s divorce finalized

Fraudulent contract is one of 11 “divorce causes” allowed by Ohio law, according to the Ohio Revised Code.

Turner asks that the two equitably allocate their marital assets and debts, that she pay his attorney fees and that neither of them pay spousal support.

“Yesterday, Congressman Turner filed for divorce from his wife, Majida Turner. The family asks for privacy at this time,” Turner spokeswoman Morgan Rako said in an emailed statement.

Turner, R-Dayton, married Majida Mourad, 47, on Dec. 19, 2015 in Dayton. It was his second marriage. He divorced his wife, Lori Turner, in 2013.

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The Turners live in a Performance Place condominium in downtown Dayton and she is listed on county property records as owner, paying $209,000 for it in August 2015 before they were married.

Majida Turner could not be reached for comment.

Majida was a registered lobbyist for the liquid natural gas export company Cheniere Energy Inc. An investigation by this newspaper found Turner backed legislation that would make it easier for companies to export natural gas, but Turner said his work on that legislation had nothing to do with his relationship with his then-fiancee.

Cheniere’s most recently filed lobbyist disclosure form from April 19 says Majida Turner was a lobbyist for the group through March of this year. But the report lists her as one of two people “no longer expected to act as a lobbyist for the client.”

The report says Cheniere spent $440,000 on its four-person lobbying operation in the first quarter and lobbied on the issue of liquid natural gas exports.

The Summer 2017 Dayton Art Institute member magazine lists Majida Turner as a trustee and vice president of government affairs at Tellurian, Inc., a Texas-based liquid natural gas company.

In his Thursday’s filing Rep. Turner asks that a restraining order be issued that keeps her from taking any of their joint property and assets.

“This includes but isn’t limited to any items in the parties’ home safe or safe deposit box(es), and Mr. Turner’s piano,” the filing says.

It also asks that she not incur any debt or credit card purchases in Rep. Turner’s name or on any joint account.