Thursday, September 3, 2020

Videotapes clear trustee of election allegations

Tim Rush
Claims that a Sumpter Township trustee illegally handled voting machine records during the Aug. 4 primary election have been disproved by videotapes of the entire incident.
Trustee Tim Rush requested that the police body camera video tape and the surveillance tape of the township community center where the incident was alleged to have taken place be shown publicly at the meeting of the board of trustees last week. Rush also made a statement regarding the incident which he requested be entered into the officials record of the meeting.
His denial, and that of several other election and township officials, was prompted by an unsubstantiated claim by township resident Toni Clark who alleged that she witnessed  incumbent Rush mishandling the tabulation tapes from the Precinct 5 voting machine following the close voting at the Aug. 4 primary election.

Sumpter Township police were called to the community center after 9 p.m. and Clark alleged to responding Ofc. Christopher Herrick that she witnessed Rush mishandling the tabulation tapes from the voting machine.
Clark insisted that she had “personally witnessed” Rush moving the voting machine and that he had “pulled the tape from the machine” and mishandled the tabulation, shouting that it was “illegal” and “against the law.”  She repeatedly insisted to the officer that she was “not lying” and had “never told a lie” during the police interview.
Clark attempted to enlist verification of her claims of wrongdoing from Precinct Chair
Irene Woodell as she was leaving the building. Woodell absolutely denied that any such violations had taken place and told the responding officer that she had been working at the polls for years and knew her job. She said that no one moved the machine and that she personally pulled the tabulation tapes.
She told the officer that the law allows that any candidate has the right to look at the tapes once they are removed from the machine and that was what occurred in this situation.
Woodell's account was verified as accurate when videotape of the community center hallways where the incident took place was played for the public, along with the police officer’'s body camera footage of the encounter with Clark.
The tape clearly shows Woodell removing the tabulation tape from the voting machine, and placing it on a table. Rush, waiting several yards away in the hall, is then seen asking to see the voting machine tape which Woodell hands to him. He does not touch or make contact with the voting machine. He places the tape on a small table several feet from the machine and unspools it before laying a section down on the table and appearing to take a photo of a section of the tape with his phone.
The tape completely refutes Clark's claims that Rush moved the machine or pulled tapes from it or left the building with the tabulation tapes.
According to law enforcement officials, the video surveillance tapes in question are marked and time coded so as to prevent any tampering with the content or editing.
Rush requested the tapes be shown publicly at the meeting and adamantly denied any wrongdoing while strongly criticizing the reports as politically motivated. 
Rush said that he has lived in the township for more than 30 years and that this election cycle has been the worst he has ever witnessed.  He cited verbal attacks on “Police Chief Eric Luke, the deputy supervisor, the clerk's office, the township attorney, Trustee Matt Oddy and now myself.”
He said the officials have been “libeled and attached by candidates running for office and their associates making false criminal accusations and publishing lies.”
Rush said that while he “respects the rights of all citizens under the First Amendment, there are consequences when that right is abused to intentionally libel people, their businesses and their families with known falsehoods.
“You cannot falsely accuse someone of a crime or intentionally libel them without being subject to the legal consequences of your actions,” he said.
(Editor's note: Attempts to reach Toni Clark were unsuccessful.)