Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Obstruction in Ohio? Part II: Blackwell Refuses to Answer Questions

Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell yesterday declined to answer 34 questions from Democrats on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee regarding alleged election irregularities and anomalies on election day in the Buckeye State.

So once again, it appears that Blackwell has placed partisan politics ahead of the democratic process.

Blackwell, in a letter to the House committee, said that he would only "respond to inquiries from the Government Accountability Office and the U.S. Department of Justice, both of which have been authorized by Congress to assess any alleged violations of the Help America Vote Act in any state or jurisdiction."

Blackwell is no idiot. He's hoping the GOP-led Justice Department will agree with him that no fraud occurred in Ohio (and that it would ignore any report from the GAO, which seems to be standard procedure for this administration). By agreeing to answer questions from the House Judiciary Committee, one could guess that Blackwell feared the road would be far rockier.

The bigger gameplan that Blackwell has followed so carefully is to delay those who want to recount the votes, want to have the paperless ballot machines independently analyzed, want to know why voters in some districts had to wait until 4 a.m. to cast their ballots while voters in other districts did not (and the partisan divide between those groups of voters), why bipartisan observers were locked out of the Bush stronghold of Warren County during the counting of votes on election night, why "pre-set" totals allegedly appeared to come from voting machines in Miami County, and why voting anomalies occurred between Kerry's vote total and that of local Democratic candidates in several urban counties.


In his own way, Blackwell has learned well from the partisan Secretary of State of the 2000 election -- Katherine Harris of Florida. Without re-living that travesty of justice, let it be said simply: no statewide recount ever occurred during the 2000 election cycle, even though that state's law said it should (a move supported by the state Supreme Court, but over-ruled, without legal precedent, by the U.S. Supreme Court). A consortium of newspapers, following a Freedom of Information Act request in 2001, recounted the votes in Florida using five methodologies -- and Al Gore was the victor three times, including after a full statewide recount of votes.

Is Blackwell doing anything illegal in the current election cycle? No, but that doesn't mean he isn't abusing his power as a state official. Would it have been proper for Blackwell to recuse himself, given his role within the state GOP effort to re-elect Bush? That's another question that should be explored. Harris did not recuse herself, of course, and in spite of protests, that decision was never overruled.

Blackwell has placed partisan politics ahead of the best interest of democracy, and how that affects his career remains to be seen. Harris, you may recall, was able to go from Florida Secretary of State to U.S. House member, and toyed with a U.S. Senate run this year. Even if Blackwell winds up a marked man among Democratic Party voters, he may be able to move upward, simply by running for a U.S. House seat in a GOP-friendly district, or perhaps by taking a job in the Bush administration.

That won't please the coalition of those who question whether fraud occurred in Ohio on election day. But Blackwell doesn't care about them anyway.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I shall reiterate what I stated on another post, Sec. Blackwell is an elected official that belongs to a political party. He is no different than any other statewide elected official insofar as that gives him a level of prominence in any national campaign organization. I am fairly certain that every single Republican Sec. of State in the nation was affiliated, even with a title, to the Bush campaign. At the same time, I am fairly certain that Democratic Sec. of State's did not recuse themselves from their positions simply because they were Democrats and were also affiliated with Sen. Kerry's campaign.

Being a member of a political party or organization does not preclude one from carrying out the duties of the office. There were several lawsuits filed before the election, in regards to decisions and process. Some of the cases were decided on the side of Sec. Blackwell, and others found against him, forcing changes to the process.

I do not know if Ohio is different than other states, but the election process, voting machines, etc ... are run at the local or county level, so I would be shocked to find that he implemented a "poll tax" and forced people to wait in line, shortchanging Democratic strongholds, as was suggested in the articles. Maybe it happened, but anecdotal evidence does not prove that Blackwell was responsible for that as that has traditionally been under local control.

JABBS mentioned previously that Sen. Kerry received more votes that were counted for him. Please provide some evidence to that effect.

8:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's important here is the appearance of impartiality to voters. Blackwell has spitted upon that appearance upon his refusal to testify. And the appearance remaining is that something smells.
The people of Ohio deserve an explanation for the widespread problems of election day of Nov. 2. If Blackwell isn't hiding something, why does he refuse to tell us? Why does he excuse himself with such explanations like (in so many words) the questions of 10,000 plus voters are too ridiculous to be believed?
The worst part of all of this is that Blackwell will continue to be allowed to get away with his trashing of the citizens he represents as long as the general media ignores or downplays the story!
For the person wanting proof Gore won, under repeated scenerios, in Florida go to
Warning. I believe, however the headline and the lead paragraph are slanted in that it states Bush would've won Florida, while leaving out the many scenerios also discussed in the article where Gore would have won. It appears much depends on what kind of count ulitmately would have been allowed had the Supreme Court not slammed the door on the matter.
I have also read stories showing Kerry winning Florida under a recount. But not sure if the stories referenced another newspaper-conducted by The Miami Herald or another publication, or the same data reflected in the above CNN article.

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the vote count, read a newspaper, my conservative brother. There were probably 1,000 articles out there saying that Bush's lead changed from 136,000 to 119,000. This is not a secret.

If you can't do basic homework before sharing your opinion, doesn't that call into question your other assertions about Ohio election law?

10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to show I'm not a complete idiot, wanted to correct an error I made in the final paragraph of my above blog. I meant to say Gore would have won Florida under different scenerios, not Kerry as I mistakenly inputted.

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you want to look up info about the 2000 Florida recount, all you have to do is go to the NY Times (or the Washington Post or the Miami Herald) archives, and find the appropriate stories and charts from midyear 2001.

You can also find the same information at various websites that referenced the original stories and charts.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enough with this drivel already. I read the article that a blogger put up "proving" Gore won in 2000. Please read again.
Only the most ridiculous read of that article would suggest proof that Gore won. Given any interpretation of the law as it stood at the time-ANY-Bush still won. You can discuss what ifs and ballots that were difficult all you want. But that article confirms what any reasonable person would think---that in a very close race that could have gone either way, it went to Bush.

This is exactly what i recalled reading back then as i thought maybe Gore should have won. But he didnt. At least not based on the facts. Anyone could have an opinion about what happens if you allow invalid ballots to count. C'mon already. An election has processes. Period. If a process is a bad one, you fix it for next time, not retroactively. ANd the blogger earlier said Gore won a statewide recount which i knew was incorrect based on what i recalled. 2000 is over; newsflash-so is 2004. Concentrate on 2008 and reinventing the democratic party as a centrist-left party and not a far left one. Get a candidate in that mode. Put forward legislation, even if it gets voted down, in that mode. Prove to the public what you stand for. Then you can possibly win congressional votes and a presidency. WIthout considering a change, get used to whining about losing. I say this as a very disgruntled democrat who only recently has begun voting republican in some cases. Still waiting for the democrats to appeal to me again because i am not fond of positions inhibiting free speech, push biblical teaching into secular society, have no control over spending, have unilateralist views about everything.....

[Not to mention, Gore, considering what he came from and the state of the US at the time, should have won in a landslide and it is an utter embarrassment he didnt. Sad and pathetic. A centrist candidate would have won this time also but the dems chose a massachusetts senator. brainfreeze.]

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The above blogger is only considering the CNN survey of the 2000 recount, as far as I can tell, and not the New York Times and Miami Herald separate recount data.

3:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know what the above blogger is referring to as conclusive. I do know what I read in the NY Times, cited elsewhere since, following the FOIA request and the recount variations.

A copy of a chart showing various methodologies can be found at

4:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

None of this matters or is conclusive. There is a complete and utter mixing of facts here. These are locally run elections and looking back, some are making the argument that if you had done this, or if you had done that, the election could have gone the other way. Yes, of course. This was a very very close election. Gore argued his case at the time. You can disagree with how that turned out, or whether the Sup Ct. should have otherwise ruled. However, to this day, there still clearly is disagreement over who would have won under different categories or rules, who would have won under the rules Gore wanted at the time etc..... Point is, it was very close. Seems that noone can claim a perfect result here. Simply put, it is not a perfect system. Time to move on. Nothing I read here convinces me either way. If Gore had been "selected" as liberals love to suggest BUsh was, the republicans would have the same exact argument in reverse, if not a better one. Enough. I again think it pathetic Gore lost or won by 100 votes. I think it is pathetic Bush was able to garner so many popular votes this time. It is time to move forward, figure out what to do next, not to argue over what occurred before. The democratic party has lost its way and seems divided internally as well. That is where the focus needs to be now. The party needs to distance themselves from the far left to a degree. let the michael moores of the world dish out that position but dont roll out a red carpet for him. his message is out there for those who want to believe. The dems need to move away from that and grab the center, a group of people that just thave to be annoyed with Bush's policies at this point.

8:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two points:

Conservatives like the above poster should worry about their own party's politics. I'm sure nothing would please him more than to have a Republican Party, and a faux Republican Party.

Second, the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is pretty clear. The Democrats want to follow the state law (Florida in 2000, Ohio in 2004) and follow through on a legal and proper recount to make sure that, like the constitution allows, each person's vote is properly counted.

Republicans want to use every conceivable legal mechanism to prevent that from happening. Harris did that in Florida in 2000, when the votes never were recounted until long after Bush was inaugurated. Blackwell is doing the same now.

And it's not just in Ohio. Look at the Washington State Governor's race. The Republicans are bitching and moaning about the Democrats wanting to count absentee ballots -- including the absentee ballot of the King County Democratic chairman. The two candidates are separated by what, 42 votes out of 3 million? But the GOP will use every appeal, every legal recourse, to try to stop what is allowable by law in that state.

Now, this is not liberal mythmaking. This is just simple recitation of the facts. Republicans hope that if they call Democrats whiners and sore losers long enough and loud enough, that the recount efforts will stop, and they can control whatever office is being disputed.

Any Democrat worth his salt would say that if the roles were reversed, they would continue to be the party of inclusion, even at the risk of losing a close election. Republicans are so power-hungry that they can convince themselves that the ends justify the means, even when that leads to voter disenfranchisement -- even when such disenfranchisement overrules state law (such as in Florida in 2000).

12:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Such absurdity.

a) i am not a conservative
b) i am not a liberal
c) there actually are people in the center and they are not "faux" and if you dont recognize that, get used to being the washington senators
d) what was bill clinton, a closet republican?
e) i am not getting into this once again but my understanding is that if it had been recounted in fashion gore wanted, he still would have lost. i am not defending the actions of either side in 2000 or 2004, as i find politics in general these days to be repulsive. But time to move

9:52 PM  

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