Melanie Leneghan, R-Powell, has petitioned the Ohio Supreme Court to issue a writ of mandamus that could ultimately order a new election in Muskingum County for the Republican Party nomination to Ohio’s 12th Congressional District.
Leneghan and her legal team are asking Ohio’s highest court to order Secretary of State Jon Husted’s Office and two Ohio county board of elections to amend or certify the June 6 recount results of the May 8 primary election.
“This is an original action in mandamus seeking to compel Jon Husted, Secretary of State of Ohio, the Chief Election Officer, and the Board of Elections of Muskingum County, Ohio, and the Board of Elections of Franklin County, Ohio … to meet their clear legal duty … to follow recount procedures under (Ohio Revised Code) and amend or certify the recount results.”
According to the petition, Leneghan’s team is accusing the Muskingum County Board of Elections of fraudulent acts during the June 6 recount of the May 8 Republican party nomination to Ohio’s 12th Congressional District ballots.
The Gazette reached out to the Husted’s office for comment about Leneghan’s petition.
“These ballots have been counted multiple times via the unofficial and official canvasses, as well as the recount requested by Ms. Leneghan,” said Sam Rossi, Husted’s press secretary. “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.”
Leneghan had filed an application May 31 requesting the recount of five precincts in Delaware County, 21 precincts in Franklin County, six precincts in Licking County, and 16 precincts in Muskingum County.
When the Muskingum County recount of the ballots still showed Troy Balderson, R-Zanesville, had received almost 80 percent of the votes in a 10-candidate field where the congressional district only represents parts of the county, Leneghan filed.
Leneghan herself only received 11 percent of the votes, the second-highest percentage in Muskingum County, while the rest of the field scored in the single digits or lower. In her home county of Delaware, she received 32 percent of the vote, while Balderson only received 20 percent in Delaware County.
In comparing the two home counties of each of the candidates and the results, Leneghan said she was highly suspicious of Muskingum County’s vote count.
Leneghan argues that the ballot containers were to remain sealed until the moment of the recount.
“Ohio’s election laws specifically imposes the duty to keep the ballots under seal until the time of recount and not recount the ballots the day before the recount and fraudulently present the day before the unlawful recount results as being the true results that ran on the recount day,” as stated in Leneghan’s petition. “Unless restrained or enjoined by an ancillary temporary restraining order or other injunction, the Respondents will erroneously and illegally not amend or correctly certify the valid results in a timely manner and will have allowed fraud to cause the outcome of the Primary 8, 2018 election.”
Leneghan’s petition also asks the Ohio Supreme Court to:
• Issue a writ of mandamus compelling respondents to reject the ballots in the 16 precincts pursuant to Ohio Revised Code.
• Issue a mandamus for respondents to uphold their duty and the law and investigate the violations and irregularities that occurred in Muskingum County during May 8, 2018, primary and the recount process.
• Issue a writ of mandamus compelling respondents to amend the official results after removing the fraudulent votes from the 16 precincts from the official count.
• Alternatively, issue a writ of mandamus ordering for a new election in Muskingum County for the Republican nomination for representative to the Congressional 12th District, and oversee the election to ensure the voters’ choice can be known.
• Issue such further and other relief as the court deems appropriate.
When The Gazette contacted Leneghan for comment, she said, “I don’t have a statement at this time.”
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.