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.



If I recall correctly, the same thing was done in masses when our current President was first elected.


Exactly true, but the liberals will jump all over this in 3....2...1.....


So that's how he won.?? You guys may want to take notes for 2016!

My thoughts

So, which poster on here is Mr. Weichel--VOTENO or Perkins2060 or someone else?


Fun fact- 31 residents of Perkins Twp Precinct #5 were at the polls, but only 27 votes were counted. Only one item on the ballot, only two choices (For or Against) - OVH our own little Florida...


Vote NO on military pensions and healthcare! Think of every soldier as a small business competing in the free market of war. It's not for the tax payer to keep unsuccesful small business from going out of business is it?


I'll be glad to vote for that, 10 minutes after the last draftee dies and you pass a Consitutional amendment banning conscription and making enlistment contracts into employment-at-will compacts. Small businesses can choose to close up shop whenever they want, or even to never open in the first place.


FROM THE ARTICLE--“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.”



The New World Czar

At a minimum, this is a conflict of interest here.


@ Lil Dab- Bennett thinks he's being criticized for volunteering only? Its sad , he doesn't see , that this was immoral and frankly disrespectful to OVH residents. RESPECT THE VETS

My thoughts

The article said he was a long-time volunteer at the OVH. He probably had the foresight to anticipate the day when Perkins pro-levy supporters would need to rustle up votes from the Vets so infiltrated the OVH volunteer list and waited to strike. Turn off your caps, no need to shout.


Lil/My thoughts/Queen,

And the proof that an ulterior motive existed is what? Because you say so?

I happen to know Jason. You are wrong, he would not, and did not, organize the help to sway votes.

Shameful is making public accusations, and dragging someone's name thru the mud, for political or personal gain. Particularly when someone was volunteering their time.

And now Let the attacks on me begin....


Attack you? Nobody cares about you.


This is the kind of news that will sink any hope of passing a levy in November. The levy campaign committee needs to come clean and give ALL the particulars of what happen. If they don't it's ALL over in November for them and even before they get started. This will cost them not only votes but volunteers working on the campaign who think that less than honorable actions are acceptable practice by the campaign leadership.


Jason Bennett, chair of the newly formed Perkins Schools levy committee, said any accusations about recruiting Alzheimer’s patients are ill-founded... We all would appreciate some candor Mr. Bennett.
I personally called the Erie County Board of Elections on election day. I was told that "yes,there was an issue at the polls and it has been resolved." I asked if it involved any Alzheimer patients at OVH and she replied, "if a voter cannot tell us their name, they are not allowed to vote." That answer alone spoke volumes.
As I said before, these vets should be treated with honor, respect and dignity. They shouldn't be used as yes votes through suggestion, coercion or smiling athletic girls.
Shame on you!

Julie R.

The Erie County Board of Elections: "If a voter cannot tell us their name, they are not allowed to vote."

What a ridiculous and ignorant assumption. Lots of people diagnosed to be in the advanced or even end stages of Alzheimers still know their names.


The fact that they didn't know their own names is enough to disqualify them regardless of their illness, maybe they were disinherited by Lorain County lawyers, now I sound like you, sarcasm..

Julie R.

My mother's attorneys (the Pisanos) weren't lawyers from Lorain County. They were from Huron, Ohio.


Pulling out all the stops, eh Perkins? Everything they have done to pass this levy is just one dumb decision after another. Thanks for the entertainment!!!


I think the for the school to do the escorting of the voters to the polls is a conflict of interest. The schools should have kept their hands off giving rides to the nursing home people. The home should use absentee ballots to make sure the vets are not taken advantage of.

Julie R.

FROM THE ARTICLE-- Elections board officials read Wechel's letter at a public meeting Wednesday morning. The four members came to a consensus: Even though nobody violated any election laws, what allegedly occured at the Ohio Veterans Home could be considered immoral and unethical.

I think they forgot to mention it was also illegal.


Most intelligent people would read "Even though nobody violated any election laws" as indicating the board found it WASN'T illegal.

Julie R.

Most intelligent people would know that unethical and immoral acts ARE illegal.


Just immoral and unethical. But that's ok, Nemesis. Just our countries heroes.

Yellow Snow

It's wonderful to register new 18 year olds to vote. Unfortunately they'll play a sympathy and biased option to these kids, just as they have the wonderful Veterans.


Disgusting! Vote NO in NOvember! Vote all new board members in except for Bennett!


Accusations. That's all I'm seeing here. No concrete evidence. A bunch of disgruntled people, using hatred for a BOE and super is one thing, but accusing children? According to the article, votes were identical from the May election. Anyone ever want to talk about school funding being cut by the state? Or how the lottery and casinos were supposed to give money for schools. The biggest problem is in the state house.


The girls varsity basketball team showing more integrity by not wanting to be there is concrete evidence enough. I applaud them!

John Harville

Ahem. There is no such thing as a living Alzheimer's victim. Alzheimers Disease only can be determined in autopsy.

"If they can't tell us their name...." So stroke victims who have lost their voices but have all other faculties can't vote? All a voter has to do is show an ID and sign the poll book - by mark if necessary.

How many voters were transported to the polls by opponents of the levy? How many TOTAL RESIDENTS from the OVH voted on election day? How many voted absentee?

Did the volunteers go into the voting booth with the veterans?

How does anyone know how the Veterans voted?

Anyone can find any reason if they fabricate enough.

Anyone can innocently influence - like the president of an area schoolboard (not Perkiins) standing in his windbreaker with the school's name in 8-inch high letters.

But don't let facts confuse you.


You failed to cite anything other than the first sentence ....

"How is Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosed?
There is no one clinical test that can determine whether a person has Alzheimer’s disease. Usually several tests are performed to rule out any other cause of dementia. The only definitive method of diagnosis is examination of brain tissue obtained from a biopsy or autopsy. However, if the current accepted criteria established by the NINCDS-ADRDA Work Group (National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Association) is used, diagnosis before death is considered about 90% accurate. A comprehensive diagnostic evaluation would include:"