Congressman Calls for Investigation of Election in Ohio's Hocking County
Published on Monday, December 20, 2004 by The Athen News (Athens, Ohio)
Congressman Calls for Investigation of Election in Hocking County
by David Laber

An affidavit signed by the Hocking County Board of Elections deputy director has prompted the ranking Democratic member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee to ask for further investigation into possible vote fraud.

On Dec. 13, Sharole Eaton, the county's elections board deputy director, swore in an affidavit that "the realization that this company (TRIAD) and staff would do anything to dishonor or disrupt the voting process is distressing to me and hard to believe. I'm being completely objective about the above statements and the reason I'm bringing this forward is to, hopefully, rule out any wrongdoing."

TRIAD Governmental Systems, Inc., based in Xenia, is a national corporation that sold computer-based systems for vote tabulation to about half of the counties in the state including Hocking County. According to the affidavit, a TRIAD technician arrived on Dec. 10 before the recount and made several adjustments to the tabulator and computer.

"He said that the battery in the computer was dead and that the stored information was gone," Eaton said in the affidavit. "He said that he could put a patch on it and fix it...He proceeded to take the computer apart and call his offices to get information to input into our computer."

After the technician was done with the machines, he allegedly told Eaton and Hocking County Elections Board Director Lisa Schwartze to post what the results should be so as to avoid having any conflicting vote results during the recount.

"He (the technician) advised Lisa and I on how to post a 'cheat sheet' on the wall so that only the board members and staff would know about it and what the codes meant so the count would come out perfect and we wouldn't have to do a full hand recount of the county," Eaton said in her affidavit.

According to the state's recount law, each county must recount by hand 3 percent of its vote (about one or two precincts). Those results are entered into the vote tabulator. If there is not discrepancy, the remaining 97 percent of the vote is counted by a machine instead of by hand.

As a result of the affidavit, Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Michigan, wrote a letter(.pdf) to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Hocking County Prosecutor Larry Beal and the New York Times on Dec. 15. Conyers is the ranking Democratic member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.

"I have information that similar actions of this nature may be occurring in other counties in Ohio," Conyers said in his letter. "I am therefore asking that you immediately investigate this alleged misconduct and that, among other things, you consider the immediate impoundment of election machinery to prevent any further tampering."

Beal told the Columbus Dispatch, "I don't have any real reason to do an investigation unless something else comes to my attention."

© Copyright 2004 The Athens News