Thursday, March 24, 2005

''As Blackwell Says, Ohio in 2004 was a National Model''

"Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell finally agreed to testify – something he had refused to do in the Moss v. Bush Ohio election challenge before the State Supreme Court and refused to do in Washington DC. His testimony proved so contentious that at one point US Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones told him to “haul ass” if he was unwilling to answer questions about irregularities in the 2004 election. Blackwell vigorously defended his role in last fall’s presidential election that returned George W. Bush to the White House at a congressional hearing on Monday, March 21, at the Ohio Statehouse, claiming critics have smeared his state as if it were a “third world country” rather than the national model of election administration that Blackwell said it was. Blackwell’s wholesale denial of the legal record documenting the scores of Election Day problems that disenfranchised tens of thousands of voters – from the House Judiciary Committee Democrats’ report, to the 900 pages of sworn affidavits and other analysis filed at the Ohio Supreme Court in response to his attempt to sanction the lawyer who filed a lawful challenge of the 2004 presidential results, to the statements made in Washington on January 6, 2005 during the Electoral College challenge – did not go unanswered by Democrats on the House Administration Committee. “Mr. Secretary of State, you have a lot of improvement to do,” said Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald, D-CA, the ranking Democrat on the panel. Blackwell testified after a string of county election directors and election board chairs said his office did not provide adequate funds for poll worker training and public education. In addition, they said their offices were deluged with administrative orders by Blackwell before the election and continuing through Election Day, complicating the process and leading to poll worker confusion, especially in some of Ohio’s biggest cities – the traditional Democratic core. Those complications slowed or sullied the voting process, several county board of election directors said. The county directors and chairs also said voter registration information from Blackwell’s office – the basis for allocating voting machines in some cases – also was typically 6 months old. And Cayuhoga County’s Michael Vu said his effort to tell 6,000-plus poll workers how to better-handle provisional ballots were met with written threats from Blackwell."-from the article in the Columbus (OH) Free Press.

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