Elections board directs staff to collect chargebacks

Published 10:55 am Wednesday, September 24, 2008


The Lawrence County Board of Elections Tuesday night told its office staff that chargebacks for the last three elections must be done before the board meets Oct. 23.

Earlier this month, former elections deputy director Ella Lawless told the board of elections and the Lawrence County Commission that the elections staff had not submitted to the auditor’s office any paperwork requesting townships, villages and other local entities pay their share of elections costs associated with their ballot issues. State law requires each government entity submitting a levy or other ballot issue to pay for the cost of having that issue on the ballot. Lawless said chargebacks had not been done since former director Mary Wipert was fired in February 2007, meaning last year’s special South Point police levy and general election and this year’s primary are still loose ends.

Email newsletter signup

Elections Director Cathy Overbeck and Deputy Director Eric Bradshaw told the elections board the chargebacks had been done. Tuesday, they admitted they had not been done, but would do so immediately.

This drew ire from board member Bob Griffith, who said he checked with the auditor’s office to confirm the work had not been done.

“You lied to us, you deliberately lied to us,” Griffith said.

“I think that’s a little strong,” fellow board member Carl Lilly countered.

Overbeck countered that in the past, chargebacks had not always been done in a timely manner, something Lawless, who also attended Tuesday afternoon’s meeting, denied.

The South Point levy chargeback would bring in more than $8,400 to a cash-strapped office. Overback said she did not know how much money is involved with the other two elections.

Money has been a much-discussed issue this year at the Lawrence County Courthouse. The county commission ordered all offices to cut their budgets by 15 percent.

This summer, the elections board invited the commission to an elections board meeting and asked for more than $200,000 to make ends meet through the end of the year and pay for the general election.