MAHONING ELECTIONS BOARD Meeting set to discuss vacancies
The board rejected a request to kick a school board candidate off the ballot.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The Mahoning County Board of Elections is expected to appoint deputy director Thomas McCabe as its director Sept. 27.
What remains to be seen is who will replace McCabe, a Republican.
The board met Thursday and decided it would discuss at the Sept. 27 meeting how to fill the vacancy left by Thursday's resignation of director Michael V. Sciortino.
County Democratic precinct committee members appointed Sciortino as county auditor Wednesday.
Mark Munroe, elections board chairman and a Republican, said promoting McCabe to director is a logical decision.
State law requires the director and chairman of county election boards to be from different political parties. That means Munroe would resign as chairman and be replaced by either Robert Wasko or Michael Morley, the two Democrats on the board.
Democratic Party Chairwoman Lisa Antonini will recommend someone for the deputy director position. That person must be approved by the four-person elections board.
"Whether there'll be a Democratic recommendation by [Sept. 27] is unknown," Munroe said. "The Democratic recommendation doesn't have to be immediate. If it takes two weeks or three months, that's fine."
Voting machine selection
Thursday also was the deadline for the state's boards of elections to select a voting machine vendor.
The Mahoning board chose to retain the electronic system it bought in 2001 for $2.95 million from Election Systems & amp; Software of Omaha, Neb., with an added paper trail, a state mandate for the 2006 election. The ES & amp;S electronic system was certified a few weeks ago by the federal government, but is still awaiting approval from the Ohio Secretary of State's office.
McCabe said ES & amp;S expects the state to certify its electronic system with a paper trail during the next few weeks. Companies have until Nov. 1 to get that certification.
McCabe said local election officials don't know the cost of adding the paper trail to the electronic system because that would be determined by the secretary of state.
In case the electronic system fails to get state certification, the Mahoning elections board also selected ES & amp;S's paper ballot with an optical scanner system as its second choice.
The county used a similar but less sophisticated ES & amp;S paper ballot system for 18 years before going electronic. The state has certified ES & amp;S's paper ballot system.
The cost of the paper/optical system isn't known because ES & amp;S would be willing to buy back its electronic system from the county for an undetermined price if it doesn't get state certification, McCabe said.
The board also rejected a protest from Tamara Prater, a Western Reserve school board candidate, to have Frank Marra, also running for the board, kicked off the ballot.
Marra admitted he submitted a nominating petition circulated by his wife, Karen, and friend, William Spellman, and only his wife signed as the document's circulator. That violates state election law, board members said.
That petition, with 20 signatures, was disqualified by the elections board.
But two other petitions circulated by Frank Marra had 26 valid signatures; 25 valid signatures are needed to run for the Western Reserve board. Because Marra had enough valid signatures, he remains on the ballot, the board ruled.