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Shadows On High: Election Machine Drama, All Dam-ed Up and Nowhere to Go

By Brian Rothenberg  Posted by Rady Ananda (about the submitter)     Permalink
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Originally posted at ProgressOhio.org; reposted here with permission of Brian Rothenberg.

Progressives are a diverse lot. It’s part of the DNA of free-form thinking – the Myers-Briggs that defines the ideology. Smart conservatives know that.

So when progressives began to splinter over different issues involving the Ohio Election study – EVEREST -- it was hardly surprising. What was surprising was how a Republican election official from Franklin County – Matt Damschroder – became – to borrow Reggie Jackson’s famous phrase -- the straw that stirred the drink in sidetracking Ohio’s Secretary of State’s voting change efforts.

Franklin County Ohio Board of Elections Director, Matt Damschroder

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One of the few things the increasingly secretive legislators on Broad and High haven’t exempted from public records are emails of Boards of Elections officials. So ProgressOhio requested Matt Damschroder’s emails on the subject of EVEREST to give SHADOWS readers a glimpse of how operatives influence politics.

What we found was correspondence that showed Damschroder become the de-facto Secretary of State for the opposition. These emails showed Damschroder positioning himself as an expert with newspapers, serving as the public relations scheduler for the elections activist community– and generally – evolving into Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner’s worst unseen antagonist.

Where there was a newspaper leaning -- he pushed. Where there were progressives with narrow concerns – he fawned over them and inflamed.

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The emails show Damschroder to have become an impassible Dam to Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner’s reform efforts – a study in the use of access, geniality and chutzpa to further his partisan agenda.

Matt Damschroder is a likeable guy, a Republican who somehow remained as Director of the Franklin County Board of Elections even though the position usually changes over and mirrors the party of the Ohio Secretary of State, who is now a Democrat.

He has done so, in part, because Denny White, former Ohio Democratic Party Chair and Deputy Director, is phasing out his long, successful career and inching toward rumored retirement. But there are loud grumblings that White remaining in the junior deputy position signals that Democrats may be sleeping while Rome is burning.

Our election system calls for balance to keep Ohio elections immune from party politics, and emails reveal that Democrats aren’t offering the needed counter-balance to Damschroder.

The emails of Mr. Damschroder demonstrate the ease and familiarity he has with people of both political parties and the media. And it is that genial behavior that masks what the emails reveal: An agenda to preserve Ohio’s now scientifically proven flawed election machinery.

There are some heavy partisan scars inflicted by Mr. Damschroder’s role in Franklin County, the most obvious being the well-documented voting machine shortages resulting in long lines for Franklin County’s minority precincts in 2004.

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A former Executive Director of the Franklin County GOP who left in 2003, Damschroder was disciplined in July 2005 for steering a check from representatives of voting vendor Diebold for $10,000 to the County Republican Party.

The Dispatch reported: "I’m here to give you $10,000," the elections director recalls Gallina saying. "Who do I make it payable to?"

"Well, you’re certainly not going to make it out to me," Damschroder says he told Gallina. "But I’m sure the Franklin County Republican Party would appreciate a donation."

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