Late form costs Bross spot on Streetsboro ballot

By Mike sever | staff writer Published:

The Portage County Board of Elections on Friday tossed a Streetsboro council candidate off the November ballot and forwarded two alleged voter fraud incidents to the Portage County prosecutor.

After a hearing Friday morning, the board accepted a challenge to Matt Bross' qualifications for the Streetsboro ballot, finding that he did not file a criminal conviction disclosure form within the five days required by the city charter. That means Bross will not appear on the ballot for one of the three at-large seats up for election.

The charter requires that a candidate file the disclosure form "within five days" of filing his nominating petitions with the county elections board. Bross filed his petitions on Wednesday, Feb. 6.

He said he sent the disclosure form to Council Clerk Caroline Kremer in an email on Feb. 12 (still past the five day limit), but Kremer called him the next day and asked him to bring in the actual form, which is what she signed and dated as received on Feb. 13.

Carmen Laudato, who filed the challenge, said the charter does make the distinction of "business days" in other sections, so there should be no misunderstanding when the charter specifies "five days."

Bross' form and those of the other five candidates filed for at-large seats listed no felony or misdemeanor convictions.

Bross, who was making his first run for city office, said he respects the board's decision. He said he doesn't think the ruling will discourage him from running again. Bross said he serves on the Board of Zoning Appeals and is president of his homeowners association. Running for council was a "logical next step" for him, he said.

"I love living here, I love working for the people of Streetsboro," he said.

Elections board Chairman Craig Stephens said the board "is troubled by the Streetsboro charter because of the position it puts us in."

Stephens said the board reviews petitions for the validity and number of signatures, but "we have no knowledge if the candidate has met other requirements for the charter." That's because the disclosure form is filed after the petitions, and there's no mechanism in the city charter to tell the elections board if candidates meet charter requirements.

The board also referred two alleged incidents of voters casting ballots at former voting precincts in last November's general election to the Portage County prosecutor.

Voter fraud is a fifth-degree felony offense, punishable by up to a year in prison.

Robert Teach, formerly of Randolph, allegedly voted using an old address in Randolph after he moved to Brimfield. Teach did not testify Friday. The case was referred to the prosecutor.

The board also referred the case of Thomas Regovich, formerly of Ravenna. The board said it found the voting irregularity was based on erroneous information from a pollworker.

Attorney Jim Eskridge, speaking for Regovich at the hearing, said it was "an honest mistake."

Eskridge said Regovich tried to change his voter registration when he sold his Ravenna home and moved to Lake County last year. Eskridge said when Regovich went to vote in Lake County in November he was told he was not registered there, but was still registered in Portage.

Eskridge said the pollworker told Regovich he had to vote in Portage.

The attorney said Regovich, who still works in Ravenna, told his story to a pollworker in Ravenna and was allowed to vote.

"He left (the polls) thinking he had done nothing wrong," Eskridge said.

Coincidentally, Eskridge said, when Regovich's wife went to vote in Lake County, she was found to still be registered in Portage and she was given a provisional ballot.

Regovich declined to comment following the board's vote.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1125 or msever@recordpub.com

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