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Election staff convicted in recount rig

Associated Press | January 24, 2007
M.R. KROPKO

CLEVELAND Two election workers were convicted Wednesday of rigging a recount of the 2004 presidential election to avoid a more thorough review in Ohio's most populous county.

Jacqueline Maiden, elections coordinator of the Cuyahoga County Elections Board, and ballot manager Kathleen Dreamer each were convicted of a felony count of negligent misconduct of an elections employee. They also were convicted of one misdemeanor count each of failure of elections 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.

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 claim the workers' actions affected the outcome of the election Kerry gained 17 votes and Bush lost six in the county's recount.

Maiden and Dreamer, who still work for the elections board, face a possible sentence of six to 18 months for the felony conviction. Sentencing is on Feb. 26.

A message left for Elections Board Director Michael Vu was not immediately returned Wednesday. The board released a statement that said its goal is to restore confidence in the county's election progress and pursue reforms in addition to those made since 2004.

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