"Another candidate left off absentee ballots
It seems the series of errors made by Hamilton County Elections Administrator Kathy Richardson continues to grow longer as the midterm elections approach.
“This is the second missing candidate discovered,” said Keith Clock, Hamilton County Democratic Party chairman. “These errors are uncalled for. One candidate’s name might be understandable, but two? This a disservice not only to our candidates, but also to voters and for taxpayers who have to pay for all of the extra postage and printing involved in these mistakes. We have voters showing up to vote, and they are getting turned away. If this isn’t voter disenfranchisement, I don’t know what is.”
Last week, a candidate, while voting by absentee in the government center, realized his name did not appear on the ballot. Bob Threlkeld, candidate for Hamilton County Council, District 1, made the discovery. “I went to vote for myself and realized my name wasn’t on the ballot. At first I was told I might have the wrong ballot, but then realized it wasn’t there,” Threlkeld said.
Threlkeld, while speaking with Hamilton County Clerk Tammy Baits over his missing name, witnessed two voters who lived in his district get turned away. “They were told that they could vote later when the error was fixed,” Threlkeld said. Thousands of ballots have now been mailed out without his name. Voters have cast these erroneous ballots by mail and in person.
Omitting Threlkeld’s name is the latest in a string of Elections Office mistakes. In the May primary, Republican absentee ballots contained the names of Democratic convention delegates. Several weeks ago, a candidate’s name was discovered missing from hundreds of absentee ballots and a deadline was missed for sending absentee ballots to military personnel serving overseas.
The Hamilton County Democratic Party is questioning how Elections Administrator Kathy Richardson and the Elections Office are making so many mistakes. “The Elections Office has half the work now that voter registration is handled by a separate office, but continues to have the same number of staff. This is a case of poor management,” Clock says.
Richardson simultaneously serves as a state representative and as the elections administrator for Hamilton County. “I question whether she should be overseeing the election in the first place, when she herself is running in that election. That is a clear conflict of interest,” says Hamilton County Election Board member Jan Ellis.
“I’m capable of doing both jobs,” Richardson told reporters, adding that she has plenty of support as an employee of the Hamilton County Clerk’s Office and as a 14-year state legislator.