Back in December there were serious allegations by Hocking County, Ohio Board of Elections Deputy Director, Sherole Eaton that an employee of Triad, the company that services all of Ohio's punch card machines, tampered with the tabulator computer, which records the results from the individual machines around the county. There is now evidence that Eaton has been asked to resign or be fired, for her whistleblowing. Even more damning, however, is a recently leaked letter to all Ohio elections officials, from J. Kenneth Blackwell, threatening dismissal of any officials who do not follow his directives.
Though comprised of both Republicans and Democrats, the Hocking County Board now pressuring Eaton continues to act under direct threat from Secretary of State Blackwell. Blackwell administered the 2004 election in Ohio while serving as the state's co-chair for the Bush-Cheney campaign. He has been widely criticized in Congress, in the media and throughout Ohio for heavy-handed partisan manipulations that resulted in Bush carrying Ohio and the presidency.
In a letter dated October 5, 2004 to Republican Chair of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections Robert Bennett, Blackwell specifically threatened removal of any board member who refused to follow his direct orders. The threat undermines Republican arguments that the election was fair because both Democrats and Republicans serve on election boards. "Be advised that your actions are not in compliance with Ohio law and further failure to comply with my lawful directives will result in official action, which may include removal of the Board and its Director," Blackwell wrote Bennett.
Under Ohio law, all election board members serve at Secretary of State Blackwell's pleasure. Cuyahoga Election Board member James Vu mentioned the letter at a Congressional hearing staged at the Ohio statehouse by Republican Congressman Bob Ney. Ney brought the hearing to Columbus in part because Blackwell refused to testify in Washington. The hearing was highlighted by angry, bitter exchanges between Blackwell and US Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, who co-introduced (with Senator Barbara Boxer of California) the historic Congressional resolution challenging the seating of the Ohio Electoral College delegation for Bush.
In his October letter Blackwell made it clear that any Election Board official, Republican or Democrat, who challenged Blackwell's decrees would be summarily removed. Election Board positions are well paid, and Blackwell's threat erased widespread claims the presence of Democrats on Election Boards guaranteed that the election was administered in a neutral, bi-partisan manner.
In fact, with the club of a loss of substantial salaries, this leaked letter makes it clear Blackwell was running the election with an iron partisan hand, and that claims of true bi-partisanship were strictly for show. (Emphasis added)
(Read the whole thing!)