One of the candidates seeking to unseat Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) in Ohio's 4th Congressional District election had to suspend his campaign after the Lorain County Board of Elections rejected his petitions to appear on the ballot after thousands of signatures were found to be illegible.
The Chronicle-Telegram reported the board voted unanimously to not certify Christopher Gibbs' petitions, who was running as an independent. He was required to submit 2,458 signatures to appear on the ballot. Circulators filed 3,065 signatures on 140 petitions Gibbs' his behalf. The board found a majority of the signatures, 1,790, were invalid, with only 1,275 signatures being acceptable.
The board also voted unanimously to forward their report to Lorain County prosecutors for investigation of possible fraud.
Among those who circulated and filed petitions with the invalid signatures on behalf of Gibbs include Janet Garrett, who has run and lost against Jordan as a Democrat in multiple House races, along with founding "The Jordan Watch."
The vast majority of the ineligible signatures from the circulated petitions came from Nicole Goben, where of the 626 signatures she submitted, only 169 signatures were valid.
Reasons for the petitions being rejected included:
- 302 signatures where the signer was from out of the area
- 179 were not qualified to sign
- 60 where the petition signature did not match the one on file
- 22 where the address did not match
- 15 duplicate signatures
- 8 illegible signatures
- 4 live outside of the United States
- 2 had addresses missing
Most disturbing, six signers were found to have been dead prior to the petitions being sent out. Five voters that appeared had died between 2015-2018, with the sixth dying in 2019. All of their signatures appeared on petitions in March 2020.
"I'm always dismayed when a candidate or petition circulator attempts to circumvent the law and take shortcuts with their petitions. We have referred this to the county prosecutor for a full investigation," Marilyn Jacobcik, the Lorain County Board of Elections chairperson, told Townhall.
"I think the fact that five different county Boards of Election independently found the alleged discrepancies should reassure the voters in Ohio that it is hard to cheat," she continued. "We have a strong elections community statewide that has helped develop strong procedures that keep the system and the ballots honest. Whatever system is used, we will be meticulous about making sure all signatures are checked and the election is run with integrity."
When reached for comment, Gibbs blamed one of the contractors his campaign hired to get the required number of signatures before the March 16 deadline.
"I'll be deferring to local county prosecutors to investigate those who were contracted to provide signatures. I am confident each of them will either investigate on their own or defer to a coordinating prosecutor," he told Townhall.
Ohio Senate Majority Leader Matt Huffman said "it's a pretty serious thing" to violate the signature requirements, despite people acting "like it's not important and everybody should get on the ballot, but there's a reason why all of that is in place...if somebody's done something illegal, they need to be held accountable."