12/20/04 5:45pm EST
Like Tim Burke, Chair of Hamilton County's Board of Elections, William A. Anthony, Jr., chair of Franklin County's Board of Elections disagrees with the uniformly positive statements coming out of Ohio's secretary of state's office. Carlo LoParo, the spokesperson for Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio's Secretary of State, encouraged us to contact these local county elections boards to refute any allegations of problems with Ohio's Presidential vote. He specifically mentioned that we should contact the chair's for Hamilton and Franklin County. On December 14th, we reported that Tim Burke had a lot of complaints regarding decisions made by the Secretary of State. If anything, Franklin's chairman Anthony went further.
'A lot of the problems and allegations could have been avoided if the Secretary of State hadn't made the rulings he did in the last few days leading up to the election' said Anthony, 'We in the local election boards tried to do the best we could [with these rulings]'. Prior to the election, Franklin county joined in a lawsuit against the state regarding Blackwell's restrictive policies on provisional ballots, restrictions that prevented certain ballots from being counted that would have counted in previous years. 'In Franklin County, we tried to set up sites specifically for provisional voting ahead of the election to make sure everyone could vote and all votes were counted...in previous years you could provisionally vote anywhere in your county. We tried to take this step because we knew the state didn't allow us enough voting machines.' Blackwell's rulings prevented them from having specific sites throughout the county for provisional ballots. 'All across this county, we didnt have enough voting machines. People are blaming us at the local level, but the real blame should be placed on Blackwell, HAVA and the Republican state legislature.' Anthony blames the legislature for part of the problems because they did not vote to authorize paper trails for Ohio's electronic voting machines until late in 2003, too late to change the machines that the counties already had purchased.
Burke and Anthony both seemed to stress the problems created by Blackwell's many directives and opinions in the days right before election day. 'Why, since Blackwell has been Secretary of State since 1998 did he wait until 37 days before election day to make this ruling [changing the way we count provisional ballots]?' Anthony wondered.
Nor can county boards opt to disregard directives or even mere opinions issued by the Secretary of State's office. 'Even though county board members are chosen by their party,' Anthony said, 'Blackwell has the power to remove any board member of any county elections board if they fail to carry out the law or any of his directives.'
If Ohio Secretary of State Blackwell's office is under the impression that the local county election boards are going to back up Blackwell's assertion that everything went well with Ohio's Presidential election, they are mistaken. My conversations with two of them, the two that the secretary's office directed me to call, suggest a long litany of issues that may very well have changed the outcome of the election. Franklin County's Anthony summed it up thusly, 'There are public hearings coming up, people are angry and want to see change. thety want uniform voting and something they can have confidence in. People have no confidence in the system. If people have no confidence in the system, they will not participate in it. The perception is that it doesn't work.'
Steven Leser, email@example.com
Anderson Bares Skin to Fight Fur Exports
Bush: Elections First Step Towards Democracy for Palestinians
Film Review: Closer
Bush Wins Another Vote: Time Magazine's Person of the Year
US Government Settles Holocaust 'Gold Train' Case