- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 24, 2007

From combined dispatches

CLEVELAND — Two election workers were convicted yesterday of tampering with a recount of the 2004 presidential election to avoid a more thorough review in Ohio’s most populous county.

Jacqueline Maiden, coordinator of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, and ballot manager Kathleen Dreamer each were convicted of a felony count of negligent misconduct by an election employee. They also were convicted of one misdemeanor count each of failure of election employees to perform their duty.

Prosecutors accused Maiden and Dreamer of secretly reviewing preselected ballots before a public recount on Dec. 16, 2004. They worked behind closed doors for three days to pick ballots they knew would not cause discrepancies when checked by hand, prosecutors said. Defense attorney Roger Synenberg has said the workers were following procedures as they understood them.

The two each had been charged with seven counts and were exonerated on five counts apiece, including all charges that they knowingly conspired to break the law and violate their duties, rather than just being negligent, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported yesterday.

A third co-worker, Rosie Grier, was acquitted of all charges.

According to the Plain Dealer, Maiden’s attorney, Robert Rotatori, said the result was “obviously a compromise verdict” because two hours before delivering their unanimous verdict, jurors sent the court a message that they were hopelessly deadlocked.

“I don’t think even the jury is sure of what it has done,” Mr. Rotatori said.

Ohio gave President Bush the electoral votes he needed to defeat Democratic Sen. John Kerry in the close election and hold on to the White House in 2004.

Special prosecutor Kevin Baxter did not say the workers’ actions affected the outcome of the election — Mr. Kerry gained 17 votes and Mr. Bush lost six in the heavily Democratic county’s recount.

Maiden and Dreamer, who still work for the elections board, face six to 18 months for the felony conviction. They also will be fired and permanently barred from public employment. Sentencing is on Feb. 26.

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