Voters First Canvasser Arrested for Submitting Fraudulent Petitions

A former Ohio University student paid to canvass for Voters First Ohio petition signatures was arrested August 14 by the Cincinnati Police Department. Timothy Noel Zureick was booked on 22 counts of signing false signatures and one count of election falsification, both fifth-degree felonies.

As reported by the Athens News, Zureick, age 21, was arrested for crimes allegedly committed while working in Athens for Working America, a campaign arm of the AFL-CIO in Washington, DC. Zureick’s August 14 arrest is the first known prosecution to stem from the numerous allegations of fraud during the union-driven Voters First campaign.

According to authorities, on or around June 12 Zureick forged the signatures of a number of prominent Athens County Democratic Party figures. Athens County Board of Elections employees who had not signed Voters First petitions alerted the county prosecutor’s office after finding their signatures on petitions Zureick submitted.

The White Collar Crimes unit of the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office investigated the case and found that Zureick was living in Cincinnati. Zureick, who has two addresses in Cincinnati, was located by authorities at his father’s residence thanks to assistance from a neighbor.

Zureick reportedly attempted to hide from the officers serving a warrant for his arrest.

“His father first denied he was at the home,” Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn told Athens News reporter Jim Phillips. However, Zureick’s car parked outside and movement detected inside the home led police to suspect otherwise.

Officers were able to persuade Zureick’s father to cooperate and to escort his son into police custody.

Shannon Welch, the president of the Ohio University College Democrats, released a statement on August 16 asserting that Zureick ended his affiliation with the club in 2010. According to Zureick’s Facebook account, he regularly attended Ohio University College Democrats parties as recently as March 31 of this year.

Blackburn, who is a member of the Athens County Democratic Party, informed the Athens News he will seek a conviction for Zureick.

“It’s a very serious matter, even though it is a first offense,” Blackburn said. He described intentional tampering with the ballot process as an offense “against our democracy as a whole.”

Voters First canvassers were caught on tape breaking election laws earlier this summer, and the group initially failed to submit enough signatures to place their referendum on the November 2012 ballot. Nearly 45 percent of the first batch of signatures submitted by Voters First were ruled invalid by election officials.

According to sources, the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections is pursuing a separate investigation involving fraudulent signatures submitted by Voters First petition circulators.

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