© 2021 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
News

Ohio Supreme Court Rules Stark County Must Buy Voting Machines Picked By Elections Board

Two voters fill out ballots during early voting at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Cleveland.
Tony Dejak
/
Associated Press
Two voters fill out ballots during early voting at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Cleveland.

The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that Stark County Commissioners must buy the voting machines selected by the county board of elections.

The Stark County Board of Elections asked state’s highest court to compel the county commissioners to approve the contract after the commissioners attempted in March to block the purchase of 1,450 machines from Dominion Voting Systems.

The voting machine company has found itself at the center of debunked 2020 election conspiracy theories promoted by allies of former President Donald Trump.

The legal arguments in the case hinged not on election falsehoods, however, but on the powers granted by Ohio state law to county commissioners and boards of elections. In its 6-1 decision, the court held that state law required commissioners to follow the board’s decision.

The commissioners will comply with the court’s decision, attorney Mark Weaver wrote in an email to ideastream.

“But we remain disappointed that taxpayers were not given, and now may never receive, the information necessary to discern whether this proposed purchase is the best value and most effective,” Weaver wrote.

In a February meeting, commissioners – all three of whom are Republicans – said they’d received an influx of messages about the purchase and questioned elections officials about the machines. Stark County BOE Director Jeff Matthews, who also chairs the county Republican Party, forcefully defended the purchase.

“Refusing to recognize that this election was safe, secure and accurate can be viewed as nothing less than attacking the peaceful transfer of power,” Matthews said in February. “Some of the claims made about Dominion Voting Systems are beyond absurd and require one to suspend all critical thought.”

Nevertheless, commissioners in March voted to halt the purchase, questioning the price estimates and saying they had a responsibility to investigate “the cost, trustworthiness, long-term viability, and other aspects” of the county’s voting systems.

The Dominion machines to be purchased by the board are approved for use in Ohio by the state board of voting machine examiners. Dominion has filed multiple defamation lawsuits across the country over the conspiracy theories about the company.

The Stark County elections board may not be finished with litigation just yet. Earlier in May, a Washington, D.C.-based group led by a former Trump campaign staffer sued the board. That case is still pending.

Copyright 2021 90.3 WCPN ideastream. To see more, visit 90.3 WCPN ideastream.