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Clark Board of Elections vote ends in three ties

Members of the Clark County Board of Elections will seek guidance from the state after splitting a vote about whether to allow three candidates on the ballot this November.

The board could not agree on three petitions, and so the issue will be sent to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office for consideration, said Matthew Tlachac, director of the Clark County Board of Elections. In seven years working elections, Tlachac said he cannot remember a similar situation. Board members in Clark and Champaign Counties certified the ballot for the November election during their regular meetings Monday.

Disputed petitions include Anita Biles, running for a board of education seat for the Springfield City School District. Parts of Biles’ nominating petition were incomplete, and board members tied when deciding whether to validate three signatures that contained a different date than that provided by the candidate.

The petition for Charles Metzger, a German Twp. trustee, also ended in a split vote in part because Metzger failed to complete his nominating petition. The petition for Richard Zsambok, running for the board of education for the Clark County Educational Service Center, also ended in a split vote because of an incomplete nominating petition.

While Tlachac said this is the first time he’s seen a tie vote, it’s possible because some of the elections guidelines board members are required to follow are vague. The current rules provide some guidelines for boards to follow, Tlachac said, but in some cases there is not a clear answer for how board members must vote.

Both sides will present arguments before the Ohio Secretary of State, and a decision could come within 14 days, Tlachac said.

Board members in Clark County also turned down seven petitions that did not meet the requirements for certification. Those included:

• Joe Hamilton, seeking a seat on the South Charleston Commission

• Jerry Donnely, seeking a seat on North Hampton Village Council

• Larry Blevins, seeking a seat on Tremont City Village Council

• Leslie C. Dalton, seeking a seat as Mad River Twp. trustee

• Dave Speas, seeking a seat on the Clark-Shawnee Local School District board

• Jon M. Stafford, seeking a seat on the Tecumseh Local School District board

• Frances A. Edwards, seeking a seat on the Southeastern Local School District Board.

Three candidates will not appear on the ballot this fall in Champaign County, after the Board of Elections ruled they did not meet the number of signatures required to qualify.

In Champaign County, Anthony Ehresmann had filed a petition for an at-large seat on the Urbana City Council. The seat became open after former council member Larry Lokai decided to retire earlier this year. But board members said Ehresmann fell two signatures short of the 50 that were required to qualify.

The petitions must be completed with signatures, but two of those on Ehresmann’s petition printed their names instead.

Ehresmann tried to correct the error after the deadline and asked the board to reconsider its decision, but they voted unanimously against allowing the petition to count.

The job of a board of elections is to make sure as many qualified candidates and issues as possible make it onto the ballot, said Bob Hamilton, a member of the Champaign County Board of Elections. But he also said to be fair to other candidates, the petitions must be filled out correctly, and every candidate should be treated the same.

“Our job is to get everyone on the ballot that we can, but they have to do everything properly to be on the ballot,” Hamilton said.

Ehresmann said he understood the decision and wanted to make sure he attempted to make a case for those who had signed his petition for candidacy.

Others whose petitions were turned down include Michael Galluzzo, who filed a petition to run for mayor in St. Paris. Heather S. Middleton Toops also had filed a petition that was turned down for a seat as a Wayne Twp. trustee.

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