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Monday, November 15, 2010

Cincinnati Tea Party Founder Mike Wilson Sues Over Election Results: Aims To Block Vote Counting In African American Precincts

  [UPDATE: Pillich calls the lawsuit an attempt to subvert the voting and elections process.  See below.  Judge Winkler won't intervene.  Provisional ballots have not yet been counted.  Wilson still trails by five votes.]
Vote Fraud In Lincoln Heights?
 CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Mike Wilson's lawsuit contends there is evidence of possible vote fraud in three precincts in Lincoln Heights, a predominantly African American city in Cincinnati's northern suburbs.  At the moment, Wilson trails State Rep. Connie Pillich, a Democrat, by five votes in the contest for a seat in the Ohio House (District 28).  Wilson ran as a Republican.  There are 1,456 provisional ballots yet to be counted, and Wilson wants a restraining order that would stop them from being tallied.   The Hamilton County Board of Elections was scheduled to count the provisionals this week, an action that would determine whether Pillich or Wilson wins the House seat in Ohio's state legislature.  Court records show Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Bob Winkler scheduled an emergency hearing --- it will be held Nov. 16 at 9 a.m. in the courthouse.  The lawsuit is Case No. A-1010404.  Wilson's lawyers said in the complaint that 9% of all provisional ballots cast in the House race were in Lincoln Heights.

"Upon information and belief, most of the provisional ballots cast in the Lincoln Heights Precincts are invalid and should not be counted, which may change the results of the election for the 28th Ohio House District in light of the narrow 5-vote margin which currently exists.  Upon information and belief, the Lincoln Heights Precincts have suffered a significant population decrease during the last several years.  As reflected by the photographs attached as Exhibit A, hundreds of residential units in the Lincoln Heights Precincts were abandoned, condemned, or leveled."

Wilson contends that Lincoln Heights  traditionally votes Democratic.  He said his campaign has obtained the names of "at least 34 voters who moved, many of whom cast clearly ineligible votes."  Of the vote total on Election Day Nov. 2, Wilson received just 22 votes of the 984 cast in Lincoln Heights.  It was not Tea Party or GOP territory.  Said Wilson's lawsuit:  "Without intervention by this Court, relators will be irreparably harmed by being prevented from challenging and ascertaining the validity of the provisional ballots, because those ballots will be intermingled in the regular ballots and the 'envelope' information necessary to verify those ballots eligibility will be lost."

Lawyers at Dinsmore & Shohl LLP, a downtown Cincinnati law firm, are representing Wilson and his campaign manager, Maggi Cook, who joined him in the lawsuit.  There is a twist in the case because Hamilton County GOP Chairman Alex M. Triantafilou -- who turns out to be a member of the law firm's litigation department -- is also the chairman of the Hamilton County Board of Elections.  That means Triantafilou's law firm is suing the panel he heads.  And that poses a potential conflict of interest.  It will be interesting to see how Triantafilou handles the issue -- perhaps he will have to sit things out.

[UPDATE: 4:12 pm -- Word has just reached The Daily Bellwether that Republican Chairman Triantafilou has recused himself.  He will not participate in board of elections discussions or decisions about vote counting in the Ohio House contest between Wilson and Pillich.  His departure is a blow to Wilson because that means the Democrats have a 2-1 edge on the board, and their majority can control how all decisions are made.  Some Republicans are openly wondering why lawyers associated with Triantafilou are representing Wilson in a case involving the board of elections.  They said it looked like a tactical error because it has the effect of knocking an important Republican figure out of action.]

[UPDATE: 11/16/10, 8:07 am -- Pillich tells The Daily  Bellwether she has hired counsel and will fight to make sure "all the votes are counted."  She also openly wonders if Wilson has ever been to Lincoln Heights.  Here's the latest from Pillich:

 "The support for their motion is rather thin:  a lot of people had moved.  (Um … that is probably why they cast provisional votes.)  It is truly disappointing that such specious arguments are being used to subvert the voting and elections process.  I do have to wonder:  has Mike Wilson ever been to Lincoln Heights?  Has he seen all of the homes that are boarded up and foreclosed upon?  Did he not notice that Valley Homes has been condemned and the Health Department has ordered residents to vacate?  Did he miss the new construction and upgrades going on?  Is he unaware of the number of people who live in poverty?  Is he aware of the low employment rate among African Americans in our community?

"The initial hearing on the lawsuit is Tuesday morning at 9 am, in Judge Robert Winkler’s court room at the Hamilton County Court House.  I will attend, and I have hired legal counsel to represent me.  Uriah is going to stay on as my campaign manager through this entire process, until all of the votes are counted."]

1 comment:

  1. Nonsensical - individual ballots can be challenged with cause. The Board of Elections must then evaluate if the cause is sufficient to discard that challenged ballot. Let the process work.