Wednesday, October 11, 2006

for kenneth blackwell, absence of proof isn't proof of innocence

This Washington Post piece looks at the governor's race in Ohio. Democrat Ted Strickland leads Republican Ken Blackwell by double-digits, and miracle of miracles, Ohio voters are apparently focusing on the issues instead of "values". ("Values" was grossly overstated/oversimplified as an issue in 2004 anyway -- if you combine various other categories like "jobs" and "outsourcing" and "the economy" into one "economy" category, THAT was a much bigger concern. As was Iraq.)

Buried near the end of the article, Michael Fletcher writes, referring to the 2004 Presidential election in Ohio, "But through multiple recounts and lawsuits, Blackwell has been cleared of playing a role in any irregularities."

That is not true. First of all, in many instances the "recounts" were just reprints of the computer-tallied results. With no paper ballots, there was no meaningful ability to recount ballots in many areas. It may be true that none of those recounts or legal actions PROVED that Blackwell "played a role in irregularities" -- but that doesn't clear him. And in any case, his efforts to suppress Democratic votes in Ohio are well documented. Remember when he announced, a few weeks before the November 2004 elections, that any registrations not filled out on a specific weight of paper would be invalidated? The affect, if he hadn't been forced to overturn himself a few days later by the public outcry, would have been to deny the registration of many new voters, who were skewing heavily Democratic. Not to mention the allocation of voting machines -- voters in Republican areas of Ohio had little or no waits because the machines were made plentiful, while voters in inner cities and college campuses waited hours and hours to vote because the machines simply weren't there, often despite the efforts of local election officials to get more in anticipation of the high turnout.

Suppressing the vote isn't an irregularity? Republican election officials in Warren County sealing the building because of a bogus "terrorist threat" on election night isn't an irregularity? Bullshit. This is a very weak effort from the Washington Post. Blackwell's role in supervising Ohio's 2004 election deserves more coverage in an article about his campaign's troubles than a short para with a dismissive final sentence that appears to exonerate him completely. He is "innocent" maybe only in a very technical, Republican sense of the word.

In any case, I fear the GOP will try again to fix things in the Buckeye State. After all, the official in charge of Ohio's 2006 elections is still -- Kenneth Blackwell.


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