Sheriff Zach Scott Claims Voter Suppression Behind Effort To Keep Him Off Ballot

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Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott is accusing his fellow Democrats on the county election board of voter suppression in an effort to keep him off the primary election ballot for a state Democratic central committee seat.

"This whole thing about voter suppression and voters rights: I have to ask what was going on down at the Board of Elections that two women were so disrespected?" said Scott.  "They attended a hearing and signed an affidavit saying ‘that's my signature’ and they were so rudely dismissed."

Yesterday the state Supreme Court unanimously overturned a decision by both the Franklin County Court of Appeals and Franklin County Board of Elections that had thrown Scott off the ballot.

"I'm very grateful the justices came back on a 7 to 0 vote, which doesn't happen very often, with an agreement that this was a total abuse of discretion," said Scott.  "I'm glad to be on the ballot, but the bigger issue is voter suppression and access to the ballot, which was wrong and the justices righted it."

Franklin County Democratic Party Chairman Greg Haas is on the election board and was one of the votes to remove Scott from the ballot.

He tells 10TV that a majority on the elections board – including two Democrats and one Republican - concluded that Scott lacked five valid signatures on his petitions.

Scott insisted they were valid and the Supreme Court agreed.

Scott has now asked attorney and former Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to request an investigation and oversight of the elections commission.

Officials estimate up to 1,800 absentee ballots have already been mailed for the primary election and do not include Scott’s name for the central committee seat.

"What would be fair is to rescind those ballots and issue new ones" said Scott.  "We are two weeks away from this election, so what will they do?  I don't know, but it creates an uphill battle."

Hass says the Supreme Court provides little guidance to an election board regarding petition signatures that do not seem to match.

He also predicts a negative battle ahead between Scott and his opponent for the seat; Franklin County Commissioner John O’Grady.

"This is not constructive and it's unfortunate," said Haas.  "It looked like common sense would prevail, but grudges and negative energy have won."

O’Grady has not returned a message left by 10TV.

The Democratic Central Committee is made up of 65 members who meet to elect state Democratic Party leadership and endorse various candidates.