Former Butler Co. director of elections terminated 1 month before midterms

BUTLER COUNTY, Pa. — The former director of elections in Butler County is out of a job, and he says despite what his staff was told, it wasn’t on his terms. Aaron Sheasley says he was terminated a month before midterm elections and believes the timing is troublesome.

Sheasley says on a Friday in April, he was told to meet the Butler County commissioners and solicitor for an off-site meeting. He didn’t think anything of it. Sheasley tells Channel 11 the solicitor for the county abruptly said he was no longer available, but for Sheasley to keep heading to the meeting. Sheasley says when he showed up, nobody was there but a lawyer.

“After some pleasantries, he said we were there to discuss my resignation,” Sheasley tells Channel 11.

Sheasley says he was blindsided and actually thought it was an April Fool’s joke.

“To have it all flipped around on you like that, it’s pretty troublesome,” Sheasley added.

Sheasley says he told the lawyer he had no plans to resign. He says a letter then showed up in the mail saying he was terminated. Sheasley did not show up for work the Monday following his termination. He said the members of his staff weren’t briefed and were concerned when he wasn’t at work.

“One of the members of my staff was so concerned he drove out to my house,” Sheasley tells Channel 11. “My staff demanded a meeting with commissioners, who then told them I left voluntarily, which was absolutely not the case. It would never in a million years cross my mind to consider leaving a position like this with a month to go before an election in a midterm election.”

Sheasley says he has no idea why he was fired. He says the timing was even more troubling. With redistricting, the timeline is compressed, and Sheasley said the ballots still needed to be created, with candidates in the correct spots, and tested.

“I would personally find it unacceptable and irresponsible to make a decision like that,” Sheasley added. “On top of that, the county left nobody in charge of the bureau of elections.”

Sheasley says he created a team he believes in, but it’s all hands-on deck on election day and for the certification process that follows.

“I would be in contact with law enforcement, with the courts. There’s always a court of common pleas judge in chambers in case something needs to be heard and challenged,” Sheasley said.

WPXI reached out to Butler County’s solicitor. He says personnel matters cannot be discussed but he trusts the right people are in place for election day.

Sheasley says he wants the community to know that in Pennsylvania alone, there has been a 50% turnover rate in elections directors since 2020. He says this is problematic because of the experience being lost when elections are more complicated than ever, with several options for voting.

Sheasley added that he and his staff have faced a great deal of harassment over unsubstantiated claims of election fraud. He says his tires were slashed multiple times and his staff dealt with air being let out of their tires. Most concerning, though, Sheasley says a dead animal was left on his front steps, which was clearly killed and placed there. The harassment was so troubling, Sheasley says armed sheriff’s deputies even helped protect elections staff.