Deep Throats and Stolen Votes
June 3, 2005
Ironically this week, Mark Felt, former Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, revealed that he was Watergate's "Deep Throat" and perhaps the most famous whistle-blower in our nation's history, but the embattled Deputy Director of the Hocking County Board of Elections (BOE) Sherole Eaton, Ohio's most well-known whistle-blower, may be fired for courageous attempt to expose alleged election tampering.
Eaton suggests that there are many potential Deep Throats throughout the Buckeye State: “…There are staff on other boards that would not come forward with things, and they have shared things with me. They were afraid they’d lose their jobs,” she told the Free Press.
The Executive Committee of the Hocking County Democratic Party met behind closed doors at a Logan, Ohio senior center on Thursday, May 26 to discuss the forced resignation of Eaton by the Hocking County BOE. Sources within the Democratic Party told the Free Press that a majority of the Executive Committee members were backers of Eaton and confronted Democratic BOE members Gerald Robinette and Susan Hughes who had voted to fire Eaton.
Eaton made national news during the Ohio presidential recount when she swore in an affidavit that Michael Barbarian, a Triad technician, had removed a hard drive from the BOE’s main vote tabulator and replaced it with another. She further alleged that Barbarian offered a “cheat sheet” so that the computer tally would match a small random hand count of votes. Under Ohio law, if 3% of the votes match the certified total, the remaining 97% of the votes do not have to be hand recounted.
Eaton claimed that she suspected that Barbarian was doing this in other counties as well. Triad is responsible for counting 41 of Ohio’s 88 counties.
“Bottom line is, it was against the law for him to come in there and take the hard drive off. We had not even had the official count yet and he had the hard drive off with all the votes on it,” Eaton explained.
Regina Prater, the Chairperson of the Hocking County Democratic Party, refused to comment on what went on during the Executive Committee meeting, but she did tell the Free Press, “Susan Hughes is going to see the Secretary of State and I’m going to make an appointment to try to get ahold of the Attorney General and have an appointment with him. We’ll have another meeting June the 9th and this will come to a head.”
Ohio law provides that all members of the Board of Elections are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Ohio Secretary of State. Tradition allows the county Democratic and Republican Parties to appoint or approve board members. Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, the co-chair of the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign in Ohio, has argued that the bi-partisan nature of the board of elections helps prevent election fraud.
In emails obtained by the Free Press, Democrats are alleging that Hughes bypassed the Democratic Party and appointed herself to the Hocking County BOE with the acquiescence of Blackwell. Hughes seconded the motion to fire Eaton.
The Free Press has learned that a majority of Democratic Executive Board members plan to remove Robinette and Hughes as Democratic BOE members. This may well provoke a crisis and answer the question of who really controls the paying positions on the Ohio Boards of Elections.
In October, Blackwell threatened to fire any BOE officials who did not follow his often controversial and contradictory directives concerning voter registration and vote counting in Ohio. Eaton was the only BOE official to publicly blow the whistle on recount irregularities.
“I got nothing but praise during the election and after the election. The chairman of the board [Robinette] stood up at a Democratic meeting twice and said what a wonderful job the Board of Elections did through the election . . . Now he’s saying, after the Triad thing, …he told the chairman of the Democratic Party, Regina Prater, I am not a team worker and therefore I should not be in that office any longer,” Eaton said.
Eaton, a 65-year-old widow who is scheduled for brain surgery on June 6, arrived at the May 26 Hocking County meeting and was greeted by a group of supporters. She told the Free Press, “I just feel really good in that I’m surrounded by good people, and that they want our democracy back. To get the fair votes, fair election officials, fair board members, just fair people that will come out and speak the truth.”
Bob Fitrakis is co-editor, with Steve Rosenfeld and Harvey Wasserman, of DID GEORGE W. BUSH STEAL AMERICA'S 2004 ELECTION?, available at www.freepress.org.
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