You see, at least four Republicans who work at the BOE are in contested races for the Republican State Central Committee: Jon Stainbrook - board member; Meghan Gallagher - elections manager; Tom Morgan - Republican booth official; and Gina Kaczala - administrative assistant.
Longstanding practice at the BOE, as well as the Secretary of State's ethics policy, says that no one in a contested race for state or local political party committee can handle ballots with their name on them. Specifically, the Secretary of State policy states:
Employees of the board of elections (other than the director and deputy director) may circulate petitions for candidates, issues, initiatives, and referenda only if they do not participate in any way in reviewing or determining the sufficiency or validity of those petitions filed with or reviewed by the board of elections.
Employees of the secretary of state and members of the board of elections who sign candidate and issue petitions as an elector should not participate in any way in reviewing or determining the sufficiency or validity of those petitions filed with or reviewed by the board of elections.
So if any of these four individuals signed a petition for a candidate, they should not handle the ballot.
Additionally, since they all have a vested interest in the votes being cast in the 2nd and 9th Senate districts, they should not be involved with the ballots being cast in those precincts either.
They also can't campaign for those positions on election day, as the SoS policy states members and employees of the boards of election shall not engage in :
Wearing or distributing shirts, buttons, stickers, or other campaign paraphernalia for or against any candidate or issue at the office of the Secretary of State, at the office of the board of elections, or at any polling place.(emphasis added)
But that's not all.
Secretary of State Jon Husted has already warned the Lucas County BOE that Meghan Gallagher was in violation of the ethics policy and told the board they should review his office policy and their own policies on the matter.
In his Jan. 6th letter breaking a tie vote to not certify the candidacy of Constantine Stamos, Husted wrote:
Additionally, I am concerned that a board staff member was one of the individuals responsible for filing the declaration of candidacy and petition for Mr. Stamos. I ask the Lucas County Board of Elections to review the Secretary of State's ethics policy and the Board's own policy related to permissible political activity of board staff.
While he doesn't name Gallagher specifically, she is the one who was turning in the petitions for the candidate.
The SoS policy also states:
The public policy behind these statutory prohibitions favors the separation of politics from the elections duties of the secretary of state, employees of the secretary of state, and the members and employees of the boards of elections to ensure public confidence in Ohio elections. Consistent with these public policy considerations and policies of prior administrations, employees of the secretary of state and members and employees of the boards of elections shall not engage in the following political activities:* Circulating a petition for any candidate (other than their own petition for an elected or political party office), issue, initiative, referendum, or constitutional amendment, when that employee's regular or intermittent duties involve the processing of the petitions in question, including but not limited to the
determination of the sufficiency and validity of the petition in question.
I wonder how many petitions for other candidates, including state and local central committees, that Meghan Gallagher, the elections manager, has circulated and if that is also a violation of the ethics policy?
The issue now, for the BOE is how to ensure confidence in the counting of the ballots, especially considering the number of detractors Stainbrook and Gallagher have within the Republican Party.
Their first duty is to the BOE and the sanctity of the elections system, ensuring not only the accuracy but also the integrity of the vote totals. Their candidacies are a distant second to that obligation.
They need to share their policy and procedures for how these votes will be totaled without their involvement, and then guarantee transparency in the enforcement of their procedures - otherwise, they open themselves up for a host of problems and accusations that we just cannot afford at the Lucas County BOE or in our election system.