Ballot investigation continues

Published 10:34 am Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New secretary of state wants more depositions

An investigator will again come to Lawrence County to continue the ongoing probe into 92 absentee ballots.

“The secretary is taking this very seriously and wants to do additional investigation,” Maggie Ostowski, spokesperson for Secretary of State Jon Husted, said Tuesday morning.

Husted took office the first of the year and is continuing to review the circumstances regarding the applications for the ballots.

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It was at the end of October when a special investigator assigned by then Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner came to Lawrence County to review the ballots.

About a month before the November general election Lawrence County Board of Election workers noticed that a number of applications for absentee ballots had listed as an alternate address one of two post office box numbers. When voters apply for an absentee ballot, they are allowed to have that ballot sent to an address other than their home location.

However when election board workers noticed the same post office boxes appearing repeatedly, they did a random check by phone to see where the voters wanted their ballots sent. On most of the calls, the workers found the phones listed on the applications were disconnected. However, those they did get in touch with said they had wanted their ballot sent to their home address.

When Brunner learned of the situation, she sent Columbus attorney Andrew Baker, to the county to investigate.

Whether Baker will be sent to Ironton for the second time is not known.

“We’re still working on (who will be the investigator),” Ostrowski said.

She did say Husted wanted more depositions taken.

In January the report that Baker generated was turned over to Husted. During her stay in office that report, which was reviewed by Brunner and her staff attorneys, was not released as lawyer-client confidentiality was cited. At that time her spokesperson said the matter could be referred to a local prosecutor or the state’s attorney general.

Right now there is no timetable for Husted’s office to have the investigation completed, Ostrowski said.

Also she doesn’t know when the new investigator will return.

“It will be soon,” she said.