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Some missing voter registration forms found

September 29, 2008
By DAVE GOSSETT, staff writer

STEUBENVILLE - Some voter registration forms originally thought to be missing were delivered today to the Jefferson County Board of Elections.

Diane Gribble, director of the board of elections, said 56 voter registration cards were delivered today from the Pittsburgh post office.

According to Victor Dubina of the U.S. Postal Service Cleveland office, postal inspectors now are back tracking the mail, "to determine what happened to the original mail and how it ended up in the Pittsburgh post office."

Article Photos

Dave Gossett
EMPTY ENVELOPE — Brian D’Amico, vice president of the College Republicans at Franciscan University of Steubenville, holds the torn and empty envelope that was received Friday at the Jefferson County Board of Elections. D’Amico said he had mailed the envelope containing 115-130 voter registration forms a week ago but it was stamped at the Youngstown postal center as “received unsealed.”

College Republicans at Franciscan University of Steubenville are conducting a voter registration drive this week on campus. But this time leaders of the group say they will hand deliver the completed forms to the Jefferson County Board of Elections.

Brian D'Amico, vice president of the College Republicans, said today "it was upsetting and sad" to learn Friday an envelope containing 115-130 completed voter registration forms mailed to the local board of elections arrived cut, torn open and empty.

D'Amico said he was contacted Friday by officials at the board of elections who reported the envelope arrived from the regional postal center in Youngstown stamped "received unsealed."

D'Amico, a senior at Franciscan and a native of Allentown, Pa., said the College Republicans had held a non-partisan voter registration drive on the university campus Sept. 1-15.

"After we found out what happened, we immediately contacted the McCain campaign to make them aware of what happened as well as university officials. David Schmiesing, vice president of student life, sent out an e-mail to all students advising them of the incident and informing everyone of our three-day voter registration drive that started today and will continue through Wednesday. So we may actually see more students registering to vote this week," D'Amico explained.

"But what is really sad is this was a nonpartisan voter registration campaign. We don't ask students who they are voting for and you don't mark a party affiliation on the form. So someone may have tried to stop Democrats and Republicans from voting in November," said D'Amico.

He noted the completed forms were placed in a 9-by-12-inch sealed envelope and mailed through the university mailroom.

According to university spokesperson Tom Sofio, "mail sent through the university mailroom is always taken to the Steubenville post office where it is then sent to Youngstown for sorting. The envelope was opened at some point after it was dropped off at the university mailroom and Youngstown. This incident could have occurred at any point during the mail routing process.

"We are also concerned because the completed voter registration forms contain partial Social Security numbers as well as information from the person's driver's license," noted Sofio.

"This is considered a very serious offense. We have no idea who tampered with the envelope but it is very sad that this sort of thing has happened," added Sofio.

D'Amico said his group has notified the U.S. Postal Service.

"The post office has informed us an investigation is now underway into mail tampering and tampering with voter registration forms," said D'Amico.

"We don't know where the alleged incident took place. All we know is we received an empty enveloped that was marked, 'voter registration forms' and stamped by the post office as 'received unsealed.' We immediately contacted the Steubenville post office, who referred us to the Youngstown postal center," explained Gribble.

"If someone took out the voter registration forms, that is sad. But what is even more serious is the personal information contained on those forms," Gribble said.

"Something like this shows the importance of voting and we should take our right to vote even more seriously," said D'Amico.

He noted a nonpartisan voter registration table will be set up in Eagan Hall on the university campus from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. today, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Gribble said she would urge anyone collecting a large number of voter registration cards to deliver the forms directly to the board of elections.

"This time we will hand deliver the completed forms to the board of elections. They were very good about calling us when they received the empty envelope so we will take the forms directly to their office," said D'Amico.

(Gossett can be contacted at dgossett@heraldstaronline.com.)

 
 

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