Who Really Won?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Blackwell Testifies: Nothing Wrong in Ohio

Not as interesting as Congress meddling to keep a vegetable 'alive', but anyway:

The state's election chief told lawmakers at a sometimes-testy congressional hearing Monday that Ohio's presidential election went as smoothly as possible, given the resources available and some last-minute interpretations by state and federal courts.

Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell testified before members of the U.S. House Administration Committee during a special hearing at the Ohio Statehouse. Members of the committee peppered Blackwell with questions about provisional ballots, long voting lines and other issues in the election that gave President Bush the 20 electoral votes he needed to capture re-election.

His appearance came more than a month after he failed to appear before the committee at a hearing in Washington.

U.S. Rep. Bob Ney, an Ohio Republican and the committee's chairman, took Blackwell's absence as a snub, especially since Blackwell was in Washington the same day to lead a meeting of the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute.

Blackwell, also a Republican, said he couldn't appear at Ney's hearing because of the previously scheduled institute meeting. Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood, another Republican, also did not appear, citing a previous commitment in her state.

The exchanges Monday became heated at times, especially between Blackwell and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a Cleveland Democrat who is not a committee member but sat in with the panel.

Tubbs Jones questioned Blackwell about a telephone message delivered to thousands of voters just before the election to make sure they voted in the correct precinct, especially if they had not changed their registration and needed a provisional ballot. Tubbs Jones wondered why he didn't say in the message that voters had the option to use provisional ballots at their local boards of elections.