LORAIN, Ohio – Former Lorain Service Director Robert Gilchrist has been indicted on four counts of illegal voting, accused of voting in a different ward than where he lives.
An investigation by the Lorain County Board of Elections concluded that Gilchrist moved from an apartment at 401 Broadway in Ward 2 to a home on Fields Way in Ward 8 in late 1999.
The investigation concludes, however, that Gilchrist voted in Ward 2 in the November 3, 2009, general election, the May 4, 2010, primary election, the November 2, 2010, general election and the May 3, 2011 primary election.
The discrepancy was discovered by current Ward 2 Councilman Dennis Flores who says he noticed something was wrong with his voter list as he was campaigning along Broadway Avenue to win back a seat that he had lost.
“I was looking at my walk list from the Board of Elections when I noticed Robert Gilchist’s name and the apartment and its like, why is Robert Gilchrist’s name on my walk list,” said Flores.
Flores said he knew that Gilchrist had moved away more than a year earlier.
“It lead me to believe the records were not up to date,” he said.
The information was shared with Denise Caruloff who took it to the Board of Elections.
“Because it’s voting fraud,” said Carluoff, adding ” I take my voting very seriously, it is a privilege that we have in this country and for somebody to blatantly do this on more than one occasion, I think it’s criminal.”
After reviewing the Board of Elections evidence prosecutors agreed.
The investigation also shows that Gilchrist signed Declaration of Candidacy petitions for candidates for the 2011 Primary Election using his Fields Way address as his voting address. At the same time he was using the Broadway apartment as his voting residence and actually voting in Ward 2 at the Black River Landing Vote Center.
Lorain County Board of Elections Director Paul Adams says the law requires voters to change the address on their voting records when it changes. Adams tells Fox 8 News that it is the responsibility of the voter to notify polling officials of the change when they vote.
“If the voter informs the poll workers that they no longer reside in that precinct and give their current address then the poll workers are required to direct the voter to the correct polling location and precinct, where they can cast a provisional ballot,” said Adams who added that there is no evidence Gilchrist ever did that.
Gilchrist was not at home when Fox 8 attempted to reach him for an explanation.
Flores speculates that the motive was political in an effort to help get him out of office.
“I suspected the hunt was on to get those votes, you know, to get me out of office, and it worked, I got beat by 26 votes.”
Caruloff says she has been the target of accusations that her motives are racial, since Gilchrist is black and she is white.
“People were saying things like ‘oh you are going after a black man’, and I was real upset that they made this into a racial, because it was never about race it was strictly about somebody voting in a ward where he should not have been voting and more than one time,” said Caruloff.
Adams says the law is clear about the requirements for voter identification in Ohio.
“Its time we hold people accountable,” added Caruloff. “This is not personal. This is about what’s right and what’s wrong.”