Ohio SOS Demands Immediate Resignation Of All Cuyahoga County Election Board Members
- Robert Bennett, Ohio's GOP Chair and President of the Board of Elections in Ohio's Most Democratic County, Vows to
- Growing Battle Underscores a Host of Other Myths, Disinfo Campaigns Concerning Buckeye State Election
CLEVELAND (AP) - All four election board members for Cuyahoga County, troubled by recount rigging charges and voting
machine problems, have been told to resign or face being fired, a state official said Monday.
Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said she called the four board members of Ohio's most populous county late Sunday,
asking them to leave by close of business Wednesday.
Brunner, a Democrat, said new leadership is needed in the county before the 2008 presidential election. She said that if
the board members don't resign by her deadline, they would face public hearings and removal.
The board's chairman, Robert Bennett, is also chairman of the state GOP
in Ohio. His term on the board ends in 2010. The other board members are two Democrats and one Republican.
Bennett said Monday he plans to finish his term, which expires in 2010.
"We are making progress on our major goal, which is to restore voter confidence in Cuyahoga County elections," he said
at a news conference.
The issue comes in the wake of two Cuyahoga County Election Officials recently found guilty
of rigging the 2004 Presidential Election recount and subsequently sentenced
to the maximum 18 months in prison after they refused to cooperate with the state's special prosecutor, Kevin Baxter.
Both Baxter and the district court judge, Peter J. Corrigan, indicated they believed the conspiracy to game the recount
was part of a larger, higher-reaching conspiracy. "It seems unlikely that your superiors wouldn't know what you were
doing," Corrigan declared
during the sentencing.
Brunner told the Plain-Dealer
this morning that the convictions were "so serious that I don't think I had any alternative" but to request the
resignation of the entire board. "It has to do with public confidence and perception," she said.
In a news conference this morning, Bennett vowed to fight Brunner in court rather than leave on his own accord.
Cuyahoga County's then Election Director, Michael Vu, who was not charged in the incident, but who has since resigned,
had previously admitted that sealed ballot boxes were opened and secretly counted prior to the state mandated recount in
order to assure the recount would not reveal any inconsistencies with the officially reported results. He has since
recanted his original story.
After the recent sentencing, Bennett, who was ultimately responsible for overseeing the convicted elections officials
--- supposedly one Republican and one Democrat --- who rigged a presidential election recount in his county said,
incredibly enough, "the convictions are a travesty of justice."
The issue also underscores an important point we've been trying to make for years: Despite the claims by disgraced
former Buckeye State SoS, J. Kenneth Blackwell and his operatives (including Bennett) for the travesty that occurred in
2004, which suggest that Ohio's supposedly "bi-partisan" structure of county elections boards --- theoretically all
comprised of two Republicans and two Democrats each --- prevents any partisan malfeasance, those boards and the
officials who work under them, have always served ultimately at the pleasure of the state SoS. That power and pressure was wielded frequently by Blackwell during his tenure, resulting in a host of
not-so-bi-partisan decisions and oversight from Ohio elections officials in 2004 and beyond.