portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reposts united states

government

Ohio's election laws need fixing

One of my duties as prosecuting attorney is to provide legal advice to our local board of elections. During this past election, I discovered several weaknesses in Ohio's election system which ought to be corrected.
The Marian Star
December 14, 2004
 link to www.marionstar.com

COLUMN


Allow me to share a few examples.

1. The Secretary of State, who is Ohio's chief election official, should not be actively involved in other candidates' political campaigns.

Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell was the Ohio chairman of President Bush's re-election campaign. At the same time, as secretary of state, Blackwell set the rules for the election by issuing directives to the boards of elections in Ohio's 88 counties. He also decided every disputed issue on which the local boards of election had a 2-2 tie vote.

This is like allowing the manager of the New York Yankees to also serve as the chief umpire in the World Series. This is wrong and it ought not be allowed.

2. The rules for voter eligibility should to be the same in all 88 counties.

Since Ohio's legislature and secretary of state have failed to provide clear rules on who is eligible to vote, different rules were applied in different counties. In some counties, voters who had not voted in recent elections were disqualified. In other counties they were allowed to vote.

In Marion County, the official election results were delayed for a week because the local board of elections voted 2-2 (on a party line vote) to disqualify certain voters.

The lack of clear rules could allow election officials to influence a future election by improperly disqualifying voters in counties where their preferred candidate was not expected to do as well. This is wrong and ought to be changed.

3. Voters should not have to wait in line for hours just to vote.

In many counties voters waited in line for hours. In a few precincts, voters were still in line after midnight. While the dedication of these voters is commendable, the elections officials should be held accountable for failing to provide sufficient voting stations to allow voters to vote within a reasonable time period.

We will never know how many voters decided not to vote due to the long lines, and how many who did wait for hours to vote will be discouraged from voting the next time. This is wrong and should never be allowed to happen again.

4. Recounts should be conducted promptly, when properly requested.

This is the law and it ought to be followed. Unfortunately, Secretary of State Blackwell, much like a basketball team running out the clock to protect its lead, ignored the law and prevented a meaningful recount from being conducted in the Presidential race.

In November, qualified Presidential candidates filed a recount request, along with the required fee, in all 88 counties. Blackwell claimed that the recount request was not valid because he had not yet certified the election results. So the candidates filed a 2nd recount request immediately after Blackwell certified the results on Dec. 6.

This time, Blackwell instructed the 88 boards of elections that they need not conduct the recount until after Dec. 13, the date the Electoral College meets in all 50 states to cast the electoral votes for President. By delaying the recount, Blackwell made sure that the recount could not change the winner, since once the electoral votes are cast there is no procedure to change the results.

Since President Bush carried Ohio by over 100,000 votes, it is extremely unlikely that a recount would change the results in this election. However, by delaying the recount, Secretary of State Blackwell set a dangerous precedent which could be used to prevent a recount in a future Presidential election in which the results are in question.

While political campaigns are partisan events, counting the votes must be done in a nonpartisan manner. It is the duty of the secretary of state and the Ohio Legislature to establish an election process which is beyond question.

If they won't do that, we ought to use our votes to elect leaders who will.
Please, Sir! 16.Dec.2004 01:36

Oliver

How can we get leaders who will nominated so we can use our votes to elect them?

And what ought we do with our votes if the leaders who won't refuse to nominate leaders who will?