Pro-levy supporters probed

Erie County Board of Elections investigates students ushering Ohio Veterans Home residents to polls
Sandusky Register Staff
Aug 22, 2013
Perkins Schools levy supporters recruited Ohio Veterans Home Alzheimer’s patients to vote for their cause, according to allegations raised by Erie County Board of Elections officials.
 
All four board members — two Democrats and two Republicans — based this charge on a letter they received from a local resident who often visits the veterans home.
 
Board member Amy Grubbe verified she saw students ushering veterans to the polls, located at the OVH, but she couldn’t determine if pro-levy supporters persuaded residents to vote “yes.” 
 
The complainant, Bob Weichel, said in a letter to the board that “a Perkins athletic coach accompanied a Perkins Schools girls athletic team to the Ohio Veterans Home to assist veterans in getting to the polling place located in the home.”
 
Weichel raised concerns about district levy supporters and students possibly influencing how some veterans voted.
 
By more than a 4-to-1 margin, individuals voting at the veterans home approved the Perkins Schools levy. This was the largest margin of victory throughout the district’s 16 voting precincts.
 
But consider this: Only 27 veterans submitted a ballot at the Ohio Veterans Home, and more than 4,600 people participated in this election. In May, 30 people cast a vote at the home for a similar school levy, with an almost identical outcome.
 
In the end, voters collectively rejected both the May and August issues aimed to generate new funds for operations through property taxes.
 
To Weichel, however, a small turnout doesn’t discredit large, lingering concerns supposedly occurring on Election Day.
 
“I feel the Perkins students and their coach assisting veterans to the polls corrupts the political process and violates the law since their veiled political activity is taking place well within 100 feet of the polling place and could happen mere feet away form the voting area,” Weichel wrote. “The blatant actions of the levy supporters are disgusting and disrespectful to the veterans who have served our country.”
 
Elections board officials read Weichel’s letter at a public meeting Wednesday morning.
 
The four members came to a consensus: Even though nobody violated any election laws, what allegedly occurred at the Ohio Veterans Home could be considered immoral and unethical.
Board members referenced students and other levy supports ushering, escorting and even pushing wheelchairs from a designated unit to the polling location.
 
“You have one side that has access to private residents who might be vulnerable,” board member Chris Marinko said. “You have a person suffering from Alzheimer’s and someone else on the other side persuading and driving that voter to do something.”
 
Said board member Kevin Zeiher: “I want to see the residents given every opportunity to vote. But it’s not a good thing that these people don’t know what’s going on or maybe don’t want to vote for or against the issue.”
 
Jason Bennett, chair of the newly formed Perkins Schools levy committee, said any accusations about recruiting Alzheimer’s patients are ill-founded.
 
A group of 15 or so volunteers, including students and community members, did escort Ohio Veterans Home residents to the polls, but only if a volunteer coordinator from the home designated them as interested voters, Bennett said. The group took the veterans to the hallway in front of the polling place and didn’t go inside.
 
“We were given a map with the locked Alzheimer’s areas marked off and they told us ‘those are areas you can’t go into,’” Bennett said. “I didn’t participate in, see or hear anyone trying to coerce any residents to vote for or against the levy or even to go vote.”
 
Bennett, a long-time Ohio Veterans Home volunteer who works at a Toledo-area nursing home, said some patients the group assisted may have had health conditions. The home’s employees could not provide volunteers with medical information, however, because of privacy concerns.
 
“I’ve never been criticized for volunteering before,” Bennett said. “It’s sad. It seems with this election, there is a certain segment of the population that thinks everything is underhanded and sneaky.”
 
Perkins Schools officials are proposing a 10-year, 6.73-mill levy for the November ballot — identical to the issue voters rejected earlier this month.
 
“The Ohio Veterans Home will be telling us what their policy us,” elections board director Jen Ferback said. “We will do whatever the home wants us to do for the November election and any other election.”
 
Among the possibilities that could occur, according to Ferback: Veterans home administrators could prohibit anyone who doesn’t live in the facility, or who is not a family member, from attending the polling location on Election Day.
 
Pick up the Register this week for more stories on Perkins Schools, including fundraising and private donors offsetting pay-to-play costs.

Comments

VOTENO

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fifteenthgreen

Puke!

Yellow Snow

Kiss the ground if you have the same income you had a few years ago. Many of us don't. Our income was cut in half 4 years ago. We've been generous all our life, now that we don't have the income you think we're against you. The "good" jobs are forever gone. If you're still fortunate, by all means write a check for a a charitable donation to your school. If you don't, you're hypocritical.

CAST THE FIRST STONE

i work way more than you. i earn my money no handouts

PyrkinsPyrate

If I had heard a local businessman boasting that he donated a few boxes of candy bars to give to the veterans if they "Voted Correctly" I would never do business with him again, no matter how far I would have to drive to get his line of products elsewhere.

VOTENO

Who is it? I'm already done with the pizza place and the haunted house place.

queenjhb

@ loving my soccer m... You took time to read these comments on here , now your lumping [vote no] folks into one group you obviously look now your nose at. tsk-tsk- tsk now inhale deeply, smell that? That's your nose stuck up your entitled [ I don't care , just give more money to gunner and BOE, so what if folks cant afford it , its all about me, me, me & what I want] bum. Donate your money to the schools, but, stay out of my pocket. Have some free ice cream, duh.

VOTENO

No, she can't afford pay to play and wants us to pay it for her.

lovingmysoccerm...

wow Queenie! I sense some frustration! all I asked is it must be nice to have that much time to spend on the computer all day! that is it! no reason to talk about noses stuck up entitled bums! You hurt my feelings! Oops! gotta go! the timer just went off for my dinner! PS we are having ice cream for desert that I bought! imagine that:)

queenjhb

@ loving- Still taking time to read comments, I see, now I get it , only you are allowed to comment on here with soooo much time on your hands now, everyone else shouldn't, Ice Cream ,you could of donated that money you spent to the schools. Tsk- tsk Oops , gotta go!

VOTENO

You don't need the ice cream. Trust me.

Tribester

This is the biggest non story of all time (so of course it merits front page news in the Register!) The Board of Elections gets a hearsay complaint full of supposition and innuendo from ONE person, and this becomes a full on investigation. It says in the article NO LAWS were violated! If you don't like it, CHANGE Ohio voting law, but don't punish students for helping a FEW veterans vote. You would think the vote total at OVH was 500-0 Yes or something the way people are carrying on about this. This is merely just one more excuse for vote no people to drone on about voting no! As far as state rankings go, maybe Edison, Huron, Margaretta are doing better because they don't have the lowest millage rate in the county! Money isn't the answer to everything, but it certainly helps! VOTE YES IN NOVEMBER!!!

My thoughts

Have Perkins students historically helped the OVH Vets vote (not just in a school levy election)? I seem to recall them doing it before but have nothinh to base my recollection on.

Bherrle

I have been told that yes they have, but I can't offer direct proof regarding when it was. Students have also helped out with non-election events also.

fifteenthgreen

Tribester, the varsity girls basketball team flat out didn't want to be there. They stated as such. They were told we need the votes. The kids did not feel right. Many of these vets thought the kids were there to sing and thought they were voting for a President. This was wrong and it was reported accordingly. If you think this action is based on one letter, you are sadly mistaken!

Bherrle

15th,

The below text in quotes is copied from the above article. They are the reporters words, not mine.

"All four board members — two Democrats and two Republicans — based this charge on a letter they received from a local resident who often visits the veterans home."

I'll point out the DonutShopGuy, 2 weeks ago, stated that there was no story here.

fifteenthgreen

Just a simple little story that true American heroes were being taken advantage of for a handful of yes votes. You wouldn't have been there if you didn't think it would have been advantageous to the schools.

Bherrle

15th,

I wasn't there. I'll be interested to see what comes from the investigation.

fifteenthgreen

Hopefully, more time will be spent engaging in the lives of these heroes for who they are and not what we can get from them. That would be enough.

Webster

One more reason to just vote NO.

ohioengineer

Escorting voters to the polls has been occurring in American politics since 1776. Republicans and Democrats both do it – this is what is called “getting out the vote.” If it is your side that is “getting out the vote” it is considered astute politics; if it is the other side it is underhanded and immoral.

fifteenthgreen

ohioengineer -

I have no problem with the community providing such a service to our veterans. Just be consistent with all elections and not selective based on individual needs and priorities.

Wald

Whoa! Just saw all the F's on the Perkins district report card. At least they have a new football stadium, though!

44870 South

Yeah...what happened? They got 3 F's and a D, among the scored criteria. Even Sandusky had one A, some B's and only 2 F's...Not that the two districts are remotely comparable. If I had to choose, I'd be sending my kid to Sandusky at this point. The "A grade" might not be there, but they offer a whole lot more and are at least showing improvement. I'm very skeptical as to the direction Perkins is going. What a shame.

VOTENO

Thanks Gunner! You are doing a fine job!

citizen

And all of this because Gunner demands he gets his new buildings...

So, so sad what Gunner has done to our community.

fifteenthgreen

“I’ve never been criticized for volunteering before,” Bennett said. “It’s sad. It seems with this election, there is a certain segment of the population that thinks everything is underhanded and sneaky.”

Who does this Bennett think he is fooling? If it wasn't for a Perkins Levy being on the ballot, he wouldn't have even been there. Did you go "volunteer" these same services to the vets during the presidential election?

VOTENO

Fire Gunner and Board resign and lets move forward!

VOTENO

And no Bennett!

Julie R.

Way to teach the young people at Perkins about ethics and morals.

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