News and Tribune

October 12, 2006

GOP head alleges voting laws violated

Election Board to address complaints today, next week

By LARRY THOMAS

Clark County Republican Chairman Glenn Murphy Jr. has submitted a formal complaint to the county’s Election Board, claiming four potential irregularities with election-related issues.

Murphy submitted a letter to the Election Board on Wednesday alleging: absentee ballots are not stored in accordance with state law; that his personal voter registration was deleted; that absentee ballots are being accepted from third parties without proper affidavits; and that candidates have been allowed to loiter outside Voter Registration, where early absentee voting is taking place.

“I just wanted to take care of all of those issues at one time,” Murphy said.

Regarding the first two issues, Murphy is claiming that County Clerk Keith Groth and his staff are either ignorant of or have willfully ignored state law. Murphy specifically states that David Abbott, a Democrat nominee for County Council, has been allowed to submit applications for absentee ballots without filling out state-mandated affidavits.

“It looks like a malicious political attack to me,” Groth said. “We’ll have a meeting and follow up on it.”

During a Wednesday evening telephone interview, Groth said he and fellow Election Board member John Montgomery would host an emergency meeting at 11 a.m. today to address the issue of absentee-ballot security. Murphy’s other concerns will likely be reviewed during a meeting that will take place next week, Groth said.

Since 1986, state law has required that completed absentee ballots be secured by two locks, the Democrat and Republican members of the Election Board maintaining one key each.

“Glenn indicated his biggest concern was that he wanted a box with two locks on it for absentee ballots,” Groth said. “If he wants two locks, we’ll get two locks. If he wants four locks, we’ll get four locks.”

Murphy also claims that his voter registration was purged, based on a notification from Monroe County that he is registered to vote there. Murphy said he has not lived there since his college days and questions whether the deletion of his registration — which has since been restored — was done in accordance with state law.

“Amy Ashabranner had told me that she had made that mistake,” Groth said. “The last thing you would want to do is purge a county chairman or an elected official.”

State law allows counties to establish a uniform method for deleting voter registrations, but requires purges to be completed at least 90 days before an election. Within 90 days of an election, a voter can only be purged if they request it in writing, have been incarcerated or have died. Purging a voter registration outside the bounds of state law can be a class D felony.

Murphy said he does not know all of the details related to the deletion of his registration and is asking the Election Board to investigate the matter.

“I do know that the system shows who purged me, but I don’t know if it shows when,” he said. “That’s why we’re asking (for a review). We’re not accusing anyone of anything.”

Murphy’s complaint also alleges that Voter Registration is not requiring people handling absentee ballot applications to fill out affidavits. The complaint specifically references Abbott, a candidate for County Council.

“That is a law to protect against absentee (voting) fraud,” Murphy said. “Dave Abbott was bringing in stacks of absentee ballots without filling out the affidavits.

“To me it sounds like (Republicans are) trying to discourage people from voting,” Abbott said. “I don’t leave (Voter Registration) until they go through (absentee ballot) applications and make sure they’re OK.”

Abbott said he has filled out affidavits whenever Voter Registration workers have asked him to do so.

Murphy also claims that on Tuesday, sheriff candidate Dan Rodden was “electioneering” near absentee voting booths outside Voter Registration.

“That’s ridiculous,” Rodden said. “I went down there (Tuesday) to turn in some required papers. I walked in and turned them in and walked out. You know, they’re grasping at straws.”

Rodden said he had to submit a form indicating that he had received a campaign donation of more than $1,000. State law requires the submission of such forms within 48 hours of large donations.

Rodden said he had to wait in line for service, but that he was not near Voter Registration any longer than necessary.

“I’m not going to bother anyone while they’re voting,” he said. “It’s ridiculous.”

“We were asking nicely and nothing was happening,” Murphy said. “A lot of these laws are old and have been flagrantly disregarded. I think they’ll take immediate action, from what I’ve gathered.”

“It’s been a well-organized political effort to reach the point where we are today,” Groth said. “We’ve conducted business like this for many years. It’s been appropriate, honest and legal.”