By Janie Southard
WAPAKONETA -- Auglaize County board of elections members are putting together a report they hope will persuade the secretary of state to remove the board from administrative oversight.
At Friday's board meeting, the Secretary of State's Northwest Regional Representative, Toni Slusser, told members there is a possibility of getting off oversight to "perhaps probation" status.
"However, I see (the board's removal from oversight) as the result of consistently continuing to do the appropriate action. There isn't one magical single act," Slusser said outside the meeting during an executive session.
The report envisioned by board members will discuss past actions and procedures chosen to deal with them.
Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell's office put the Auglaize County elections board on administrative oversight in October after an investigation by the state found the local board was not carrying out their duties and responsibilities properly. Oversight means representatives from Blackwell's office will be present to oversee all activities. The investigation also led to removal of the elections board director due to numerous alleged improper actions in dealing with elections procedures.
The board attempted to keep the former director in a lower staff position but was cautioned against it by a Blackwell representative who told the board, the secretary ordered removal from office not demotion. The former director, Jean Burklo. was officially removed on April 15.
At an elections board meeting last week, newly-hired Auglaize Elections Director Linda Householder informed the board of software problems with the Elections System & Software (ES&S) program, specifically in printing out the necessary information on more than 5,000 voter information cards, completion of which is now beyond state deadline. The software also was expected to be used in the next election,
Householder said the ES&S support staff were unprofessional in their response to her requests for assistance and remarked "It's too early in the morning to think about it." The staff promised return calls which never came, she told the board.
In a final effort to get the cards ready, the director and a member of her staff manually typed sticky labels for the cards and called for help from their teenaged children to fold and secure the cards. The teens received no money for their help.
Slusser said she had just learned about the card backup problem and requested board members Diana Hausfeld and Larry Fledderjohann research the background from older information cards in previous years have the information ready by Tuesday when Slusser will visit the Auglaize office to review the results.
Householder requested and received approval for part-time as-needed help around the office. Hausfeld insisted that no family members could be considered.
She also suggested resumes on hand for a higher level position be culled and the more promising applicants be offered the work. "That way we can see if they are willing to learn the office or are they just wind bagging us," she pronounced.
Additionally, Householder raised concerns about securing the office throughout the day when she needs to get the mail, etc., and when she is alone in the office.
The building security system is programed to unlock offices as 7:30 a.m. and lock them at 4 p.m. No accommodations are in place for office workers to lock the doors. Hausfeld said she would look into the problem.