The Ohio Attorney General’s Office filed a response in the Ohio Supreme Court toward a former Congressional candidate’s complaint asking for a writ of mandamus to compel the Secretary of State to set aside 16 precincts of ballots from the May 8 primary election and certify the results.

Melanie Leneghan, R-Powell, filed an amended complaint with the High Court June 28 asking that Secretary of State Jon Husted and the Muskingum County Board of Elections be compelled to set aside and not count the ballots of 16 precincts from the Ohio 12th Congressional District May 8 Republican primary.

Leneghan placed second to Troy Balderson, R-Zanesville, in the primary for the nomination to run in the August special election and November general election to replace Pat Tiberi, R-Genoa.

Tiberi resigned from Congress in January to head the Ohio Business Roundtable.

Leneghan filed an application requesting a recount of five precincts in Delaware County, 21 precincts in Franklin County, six precincts in Licking County, and 16 precincts in Muskingum County. After the recount, Leneghan still trailed Balderson by only 1 percent of the total vote in the district but lost to him by almost 80 percent of the vote in Muskingum County.

According to Leneghan’s petition to the highest court in the state, she and her team are accusing the Muskingum County Board of Elections of fraudulent acts under Ohio election laws during the June 6 recount.

Leneghan’s legal team allege that two days prior to the scheduled recount date, which representatives from both the Leneghan and Balderson campaigns were to observe, Muskingum County BOE staff opened the sealed boxes containing the ballots.

“On June 5th, one day prior to the scheduled recount where by law the ballots are to be unsealed, and not before, they scanned the ballots, submitting these totals as official recount totals, all felony violations of Ohio’s election statutes,” as stated in a prior press release from Leneghan.

The Attorney General’s Office response states that Leneghan’s complaint “contains numerous legal conclusions to which no response is required” and that “the Secretary states that he issues recount instructions by directive, but that the board of elections is responsible for conducting a recount. He had no involvement in the described recount and, therefore, is without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations concerning the recount. The Secretary denies that he has failed to perform any duty imposed upon him by law. The Secretary further denies that (Leneghan’s team) are entitled to the relief they seek. To the extent any further response is required, the remaining allegations are denied.”

The Attorney General’s Office also states, “The Secretary admits that this Court has jurisdiction over original actions in mandamus. The Secretary denies that the Court has jurisdiction over this mandamus action. … To the extent a response is required, the allegations are denied.”

According to legal documents, the Attorney General’s Office’s affirmative defense of Husted’s decision is based on:

• Leneghan’s team has not stated a claim upon which relief can be granted.

• The Ohio Supreme Court lacks jurisdiction over Leneghan’s claims.

• Leneghan does not have a clear legal right to the requested relief.

• Husted has no clear legal duty to provide the requested relief.

• Leneghan does have an adequate remedy at law.

• The action is barred by the doctrine of laches. According to Lexis Nexis, the definition of the doctrine of latches is “time is up.”

• Leneghan lacks standing.

• The Secretary reserves the right to supplement his answer with additional defenses, including affirmative defenses, as litigation in this matter proceeds.

“… Secretary of State respectfully requests that this Court deny the relief sought and dismiss the Complaint,” states the Attorney General’s response to the amended complaint, written on behalf of Husted.

Sam Rossi, Husted’s press secretary, said Wednesday that his original statement still stands: “These ballots have been counted multiple times via the unofficial and official canvasses, as well as the recount requested by Ms. Leneghan. In each instance, the election’s outcome has remained the same. We are confident the county boards of elections conducted this election and its recount in accordance with the law.”



By D. Anthony Botkin

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Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.