Saturday, July 22, 2006

Blackwell's lying about his inability to do anything about the Cuyahoga Board of Elections mess

Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell's official spokeman, denies that Secretary of State Blackwell can break the tie in the Cuyahoga Board of Elections' vote to remove Cuyahoga Board of Elections Director Michael Vu.

As was reported in the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Blackwell spokesman James Lee said that Ohio law says that ties involving elections board directors or deputy directors are not matters for the secretary of state to decide and that Blackwell's office would not get involved. A tie in such cases means the proposal to remove Vu fails, Lee said.
But that's not the whole story.

Under R.C. 3501.16:

"The secretary of state may summarily remove or suspend any member of the board of elections, or the director, deputy director, or any other employee of the board, for neglect of duty, malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance in office . . . vacancies in the office of chairperson, director, or deputy director shall be filled in the same manner as original selections are made, from persons belonging to the same political party as that to which the outgoing officer belonged. If those vacancies cannot be filled in that manner, they shall be filled by the secretary of state."

So Blackwell's office is ducking the real question. Nobody really cares if Blackwell feels he has the statutory authority to break the Board's tie on issues regarding the director. What they want to know is if Blackwell will use his express statutory authority to remove those responsible for the Cuyahoga Board of Elections disaster, regardless of what the Board has decided or failed to decide.

Sad when a simple blogger has to cite Ohio Election law back to Ohio's two-term Secretary of State.

[UPDATE]: If someone can get me the legal authority the Secretary of State's office is relying on for their interpretation of Ohio law, I'd like to review it. Under R.C. 3501.09, the Secretary of State determines who the Director and other positions will be in the event that the Board of Elections cannot decide on who to appoint. It would, therefore, make little sense that the legislature would not give the Secretary of State authority to determine whether to remove a Director when the Board of Elections is tied on the matter.

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