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GOP Central Committee Races Raise Controversy

Candidate Absentee Ballots Raise Questions
Photo by: Chris Myers

The U.S. Postal Service prides itself on delivering the mail no matter what—neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor dark of night will keep them from their appointed rounds.

That is, unless multiple absentee ballots are headed to the same address and it looks and smells fishy.

The Lucas County Board of Elections processed three sets of such questionable absentee ballots recently—but they weren’t caught at first.

Multiple absentee ballots are mailed to one address routinely—if those addresses are nursing homes, retirement villages, or even a convent.

But when 15 absentee ballots go to the same address for GOP central committee candidates, nine to another, and four more to a third address—something’s up. It smelled fishier than the proper use for a printed copy of the Toledo Blade.

That’s nearly 30 absentee ballots headed to three addresses that don’t meet the classifications listed above. It’s out of the ordinary, to say the least.

Multiple candidates for elective office noticed the trend when they sent out campaign mailers specifically aimed at absentee voters—a traditional target audience in search of support. They called the board of elections, which double-checked the apparent discrepancy.

That was a prudent move, considering a forgery investigation recently was conducted involving some of the same politicos.

“We scrutinized the signatures and they all match up,” said Jeremy Demagall, deputy director of the Lucas County Board of Elections “This is a highly unusual case.”

Board of elections officials even contact the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, and learned that it’s perfectly legal. A request for an absentee ballot, under Ohio Revised Code, doesn’t have to go to a voter’s listed address.

15 requests for central committee candidates were received for an address on Fullington St. in Toledo—the same address listed for Jon Stainbrook sympathizer Kelly Bensman, a candidate herself. Another nine requests for such candidates went to a downtown apartment on 16th St., where records show Broc Curry lives, another GOP central committee candidate. Still four more were processed for an address on Harvest Lane, although the homeowner is not one of them.

However, the post office returned some of those absentee ballots to the board of elections marked as “undeliverable.” No reason has been delivered by the post office for the returns.

Someone from Stainbrook’s camp complained to elections officials, claiming the snafu occurred on purpose. Obviously, those absentee votes are very important to Stainbrook and his supporters, for whatever reason.

“It’s interesting” is all Demagall would say.

What is the strategy here? Who knows, but it lends itself to a lot of speculation.

Is Stainbrook’s inner circle trying to ensure its supporters are registered as true Republicans so they can officially vote at the GOP reorganization meeting?

30 votes could make all the difference in a close contest between Stainbrook and local attorney Jeff Simpson for Lucas County Republican Party chairman, when there are only up to 297 votes of precinct captains involved.

Or is it a legitimate get-out-the-vote effort on the part of Ms. Bensman and Co. on behalf of some busy friends? Hardly.

If anyone knows the gaps and loopholes in election law, it is the Stainbrook clan. There is an obvious means to an end here. But no one’s exactly sure what it is.

Stay tuned. The answer only may become apparent following the May primary.