Saturday, November 25, 2006

Blackwell: Worst Secretary of State Ever

Ken Blackwell Should Be Impeached

It was ironic that Subodh Chandra was up for contempt issues when Ken Blackwell held the ultimate contempt for nearly every court in Ohio. First, he never gave the local boards proper guidance on the voting ID law. He then did not inform the local Boards of Elections properly of the agreement with NEOCH/SEIU. On the Monday before the election there was a settlement over the role of the observers that he was supposed to inform every county board of elections (issued by a Cuyahoga County judge). Blackwell instead only informed the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections and that was in the last minute of business on Monday November 6. Then there was still confusion over the counting of provisional ballots (because thousands of Ohioans were improperly forced to vote with a provisional ballot) and the legal team had to work out another compromise over the counting of votes. So after all these fights, some boards still did not get the information and were not using the agreement to govern the rules to complete their count.

Having learned from 2000 and 2004 that there is no going back once the official count is announced, Chandra was probably overly zealous in informing each board of elections director in the state of the agreement he spent so many hours crafting. Who could blame him? If Blackwell had done his job in the first place there would not have been so many provisional ballots cast that needed counted. I hope that one of the courts find Blackwell in contempt. The state legislature should impeach him for not directing the local boards on HB3 and then showing disregard for court monitored agreements, and finally acting with such extreme dereliction of duty in overseeing this election. I remind you that Blackwell shook off all suggestions to appoint someone else to oversee this election despite his obvious conflict of interest as a candidate for governor. He also railed against the 2004 voter initiative that would have taken some of the conflict of interest out of the Secretary of State's office.

This is not a partisan issue either, because both Sherrod Brown (D) and Bob Taft (R) were very good Secretaries of State. They both did a very good job in trying to get every citizen to vote and reduce the barriers to voting. Bob Taft was one of the first Secretaries of State in the United States to implement rules for homeless people registering to vote. The Taft rules were models adopted by many other states and pushed by advocates. Blackwell has to be one of the worst Secretaries of State in the United States. He has disenfranchised more Ohioans than anyone since Ohio Secretary of State Harvey Smith presided over the 1919 Elections before women were granted the right to vote.

PS. Why was the Plain Dealer so harsh on Chandra? Did it have anything to do with how soft they were on Michael Vu and local election's officials?

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

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