By Janie Southard
WAPAKONETA -- Auglaize County Elections Board Director Linda Householder Huber wants county citizens to be aware of what's really going on at the board of elections -- possible election falsification and a breach of security.
In an Aug. 25 letter to the board's temporary president Stan Wietholter, Huber documents two incidents that occurred over the past two years.
The first involves former Director Jean Burklo adding a large number of inactive voters back to active status in June 2003 in what may be a type of election falsification, according to Huber.
The situation was discovered this summer when Huber began preparing the mailing of voter confirmation cards, which solicit updated information from registered voters. Instead of the 2,000 or so cards expected, there were more than 5,000 cards in the system.
"The software program that manages (the cards) leaves an audit and log trail showing which official took the action. In each and every case, (re-entering the inactive voters) was done by Jean Burklo as the audit trail clearly shows," Huber wrote. After reporting her findings to board member Larry Fledderjohann, she said he told her a few days later that former deputy director Ken Nuss had changed the voters' status. Even when Huber pointed out the audit trail led to Burklo, nothing was done, she said.
In her letter, Huber points out that the Help America Vote Act of 2002 made a number of grants available for the purchase of new voting machines. The grant money was based on the number of registered voters.
"I can think of no other explanation for re-entering those inactive voters," Huber wrote.
Burklo was removed from office in April by Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell due to questionable activities at the elections office.
The second item in the letter to Wietholter involves a "serious breach of security" by Fledderjohann.
At a recent regular meeting, Huber informed the board that two keys were missing to locked cabinets where voting materials are kept. "Later, I was chastised by Larry Fledderjohann for bringing this to the board's attention in a public meeting," Huber wrote.
During the week of Aug. 15, board office employees discovered the cabinets were unlocked and standing open. Huber called Wietholter and the county sheriff's office to report an incident.
Fledderjohann later stated he entered the administration building after hours and gained entrance with a key card to the elections office. He stated he had some keys he thought might open the cabinets.
"He did not inform any other board member or myself or the deputy director of his actions. After opening the cabinets, he did not secure them and did not advise me or anyone else or even leave a note," Huber wrote.
She continued, saying that at the least, Fledderjohann should have a member of the opposite political party with him. Additionally, the entry key card he used had been issued to Ken Nuss, an employee fired by the board last year.
"We assume Larry was alone, but he could have had anyone with him. There is no security video," Huber told The Daily Standard.