Court Order Delivered at Dramatic Board of Elections Meeting as Eaton Supporters Rally
ALSO: A Republican Board Member Admits Fundraising Work Done on BoE Property
By Brad Friedman on 7/6/2005, 1:42pm PT  

Hocking County, Ohio's recount whistleblower, Sherole Eaton --- who was recently fired without explanation in the wake of having reported on a voting company employee tampering with the hard-drive of a central tabulating computer and offering "cheat-sheets" prior to the recount of the November 2004 Presidential Election --- received some support yesterday from both a Court Order and several dozen backers at a dramatic Board of Elections meeting.

Attorney Cliff Arnebeck, one of the attorneys who filed a case in Ohio to have the November Election results set aside due to evidence of fraud, served County Board of Elections officials with a court order mandating Eaton not be replaced until further court orders are issued.

"Yesterday was the first of what I hope are many victories for Sherole," Karla VanBibber told us via Email earlier today. VanBibber, who is Sherole's niece attended the meeting, and described the moment when Arnebeck arrived with the court order: "The expressions on the board members faces when given the court injunction was priceless."

VanBibber also gave us her take on the reactions from the Board Members in the face of questions from supporters about Eaton's dismissal, which she says is illegal under Ohio law. "Their sputtering and faultering and lying was unbelievable," she said. "It's amazing how the arrogance we see in the Bush administrations has filtered down to the local level as it has."

Apparently, they won't be giving up the fight for Eaton, who is recovering from recent brain surgery, but attended the hearing "in apparently good spirits and seemingly good health - full of energy and zeal and very appreciative of the support," according to Evan Davis's detailed account of the meeting at Ray Beckerman's blog.

Said VanBibber, "We knocked them down a few notches yesterday, we won't give up until they're on their knees and Sherole has her job back."

Eaton's firing, and her dramatic appearance at another recent Board of Election hearing, just two days surgery, was covered in this previous BRAD BLOG report.

Hocking County's Logan Daily News also had a report today on yesterday's meeting. "[Sherole] was so happy this morning when she received her paper," VanBibber said, "she came over and was so excited and for the first time in awhile was optomistic."

Logan Daily News described Arnebeck's dramatic appearance at the meeting...

The spectators sat quietly for the most part as the board went through its agenda and discussed Diebold voting machines, TRIAD voting software, splitting precincts, and moving into the Huls Building.

Then Arnebeck asked to address the board "on a point of order."

"We filed a complaint for a declaratory judgment and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief against any action to terminate or replace Sherole Eaton as deputy director," Arnebeck said. "All I want to do is serve the board with a copy of the order to restrain it from taking any further action on this matter until further action of the court."

Spectators in the room applauded as Arnebeck lay the order on the desk before Robinette.

Apparently Board of Elections officials have yet to go on record as to the cause of Eaton's firing. According to Davis, the most the Board has said is that they "weren't satisfied with her performance."

At the meeting on Tuesday, however, VanBibber painted a different picture in her direct questioning of the board's chair, Gerald Robinette. "You praised her personally at the Democrat meeting until the incident with the TRIAD technician. She was competent, and did a great job, and suddenly she became incompetent?"

The board refused to answer, according to Logan Daily News.

Eaton's firing has drawn national attention. Rep. John Conyers' (D-MI) was quoted in a Daily News article in May, describing Eaton as having come forward "bravely" to report on the tampering by Triad employees during the recount. He told the paper that "Absent any other explanation, and having been told at the time of the incident that Ms. Eaton was an excellent employee, I can only conclude that Ms. Eaton's firing was solely out of retaliation."

Much has been made, of late, regarding the supposedly "bi-partisan" Boards of Election in Ohio. Mostly by the Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell in defending the November Election debacle and its subsequently spoiled recount. Blackwell, in charge of elections in Ohio, and incidentally the co-chair for the Bush/Cheney Re-Election Committee, has repeatedly claimed that the "bi-partisan" nature of the boards precludes any chicanery favoring one side or the other.

Nonetheless, a great deal of evidence has surfaced of late to suggest that the "Democrats" on many of these boards are Democrats in name only.

In describing information that Davis received from Eaton, who "intimated" to him that a replacement for her has already been chosen, the replacement is described as "A part-time BOE employee who has been an active Republican but who registered as a Democrat in the last primary election, presumably in order to qualify as a candidate for Sherole's position."

Davis spoke with Robinette after the meeting to discuss the new mandate by Blackwell to purchase touch-screen voting machines made by Diebold, Inc. in Ohio. He asked about how votes on such machines could be verified in the event of a recount. According to Davis, Robinette told him, "You're more knowledgeable than I am on that. I really don't know. All I know is that they're certified by the federal government and they're being mandated by the Secretary of State."

Davis also said that Robinette went on to say "that the old punchcard system was perfectly adequate in his view and that he resented the Sec. of State. 'pushing (the county) in to something ( DRE's ) that wasn't really necessary.'"

The dramatic hearing also reportedly resulted in an admission by one of the Republican members of the Board, Lisa Schwartze, that she conducted Republican Party business during working hours and on Board of Election property.

While Schwartze admitted to some of the charges, she contested others and the issue was tabled by the chair for a further meeting.

VanBibber also told The BRAD BLOG today that Harpers Magazine would be running an article on Eaton in their August issue, and that she's "received a call from the BBC expressing an interest in doing a movie about her battle."

Eaton was a recent guest on a The BRAD SHOW. The interview we conducted with her, in which she describes the Triad incident, her recent firing and the subsequent support she's received from the community, can be heard here in MP3 format.