A nonprofit group composed of several ex-staffers to former President Donald Trump sued an Ohio county on Tuesday over the purchase of machines from Dominion Voting Systems, a company beset by dubious 2020 election fraud claims in the aftermath of the November contest.
The lawsuit, filed by Look Ahead America against the Stark County Board of Elections, alleges the government body violated Ohio’s Open Meetings Act when it agreed to purchase the hardware in a meeting that “excluded” the general public in December 2020.
The state’s Open Meetings Act requires representatives “to conduct all public business in open meetings that the public may attend and observe, unless premature disclosure of information would give an unfair competitive or bargaining advantage to a person whose personal, private interest is adverse to the general public interest.”
The nonprofit group alleges that the county, which was deciding between two vendors for its voting equipment, did not meet the grounds to hold a private meeting in that instance, even with the competition exemption, and wants the court to declare its purchase invalid, among other points of relief.
“The process engaged in by the Board of Elections was not transparent and open to the public,” Matt Braynard, executive director of Look Ahead America, said in a statement. “Right before voting on the contract with Dominion, the board excluded the public for eighteen minutes from their discussion and deliberations. Nothing necessitated the public’s exclusion. And for the next months thereafter, they continued to exclude the public when discussing the contract with Dominion. That’s not consistent with both the letter and spirit of Ohio’s Open Meetings Act and we are going to get justice for the residents of Stark County Ohio.”
In an announcement, LAA said its members are “determined to ensure that any voting equipment purchased relies on open source software and hardware” to “restore trust” in the election process.
On March 26, the Stark County Board of Elections revolted against a group of commissioners, all of whom were Republicans, that declined to obtain 1,450 Dominion voting machines. The four-member board voted 4-0 to expedite the purchase, demanding commissioners approve the funds by a meeting set for Wednesday “due to the time-sensitive nature of needing the equipment in time for 2021 general election” on Nov. 2.
The board also voted 3-0, with one abstention, to authorize a lawsuit if the county commissioners decline the 10-year, multimillion-dollar contract, which would be partially covered by the state and trade-in value in the first year.
“I think that it’s pretty clear at this point, this is our selection, and we need to move forward,” Samuel Ferruccio, the Democratic chairman of the elections board, told ideastream. “We want to be in a position to have our new equipment for the general election at this point, so time is of the essence.”
On April 5, the elections board filed a lawsuit in the Ohio Supreme Court to expedite the purchase after it failed to make headway with GOP opposition. The lawsuit seeks an order from a judge to compel the area to acquire the Dominion machines.
Dominion did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Washington Examiner but has broadly denied allegations of its hardware and software being used to commit fraud in the 2020 election and has filed multiple lawsuits against people who made such claims.