PUTNAM COUNTY - Recent allegations has the board of elections office doing damage control.

After a complaint was filed with the Ohio Secretary of State late last month alleging a county employee may have had unauthorized access to hardware in the office of the Putnam County Board of Elections, the Secretary of State's office got involved. An employee in that office, Brandi Laser Seskes, wrote a letter dated Nov. 7 to chairperson of the board, Ann Dillinger.

The complaint alleged a subject has had, for months, full, and unsupervised access to the Board of Elections computer servers, that the employee blindly forwarded all incoming e-mails and attached data from an Ohio Secretary of State employee to his personal e-mail account.

The complainant said the subject is not an employee of the board and felt this was in violation of Secretary of State orders. Non-employees of the board are not permitted to have access to the board's computer system, according to a directive from the Secretary of State Office.

The board is to ensure the county employee computer access is monitored and overseen by a member of the opposite political party, the letter said.

Further, the complaint said a county employee may be forwarding private e- mails and data files meant for county officials to a personal, private, outside e-mail account.

The letter toned down the severity of forwarding e-mails to a personal e- mail account.

It said, "The e-mails forwarded are likely subject to public disclosure under Ohio's public records law, unless privileged or otherwise exempt."

The board met on Nov. 12 to discuss the letter and the aforementioned allegations and when they were done, the matter was put to rest.

The group went into to executive session for the purposes of discussing personnel issues for about an hour before returning to open session.

Martin Kuhlman, board member, defended the county employee.

He said, "He's been able to access all the computers within the county system including the sheriff's, office, prosecutor's office, job and family services. The board of elections is an office of the county. Therefore, being an employee of the county, he can access these computers as well."

The complaint asserted voter's personal information, like social security numbers, may have also been compromised. Kuhlman said this is not the case.

"No information that was sent to [the county employee] had personal information such as social security numbers or driver's license numbers."

Kuhlman said all that information is subject to public record and the information this county employee receives is the same that board members also receive. He disclaims the notion that this information was sent to a personal e- mail account.

Kuhlman said, "They were only sent to his county office, not to his home."

A Triad, a private corporation that supplies and programs voting machines in many Ohio precincts suggested the county employee receive the e-mails to start with for work purposes and in preparation of the then looming election, said Kuhlman.

"The only e-mails received were the directives and the e-mails from Triad. There were no other e-mails sent to him."

"We're taking no disciplinary action. None was suggested or given."

In fact, the board would like make the county employee a full fledged part-time worker in the office. The board commended the county employee and director, Karen Lammers for their efforts before, during and after the general election. They are to report back to the Secretary of State's office no later than Nov. 28.