Former Ohio governor candidate on Trump election panel

Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell said he does not necessarily believe that three to five million people voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election.

But he doesn’t believe the nation’s system of voting is flawless, either.

Blackwell, one of 12 current members of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity — there can be up to 15, not counting Vice President Mike Pence, who chairs the commission — said the panel, which Blackwell was named to in May - isn’t designed to prove President Donald Trump’s oft-repeated, never substantiated claim that three to five million voted illegally, but rather, to do a holistic, global approach to the nation’s election system.

“This has never been presented to me as a commission that has been given a prescribed scenario in search of facts,” he said.

RELATED: Ohio election chief at odds with Trump over voter fraud

He said when he was asked to serve on the commission “it was with a vision and an understanding that we would do just as some of our predecessors in terms of commissions have done in the past – to review the complex system of American elections and see what new vulnerabilities and new threats are in play.”

He said the commission’s task is valid, and one that many government agencies have undertaken over the years.

“The notion that this commission is one that should not exist and the false narrowing of the mission to kill it in the crib I find to be offensive,” he said.

The commission, which will hold its first meeting in Washington, D.C. July 19, is tasked with “reviewing the integrity of elections in order to protect and preserve the principle of one person, one vote,” said Pence in a release announcing the formation of the panel.

That same release listed the commission’s role as studying vulnerabilities in voting systems that could lead to improper voter registrations, improper voting, fraudulent voter registrations and fraudulent voting. They’ve also been asked to study voter suppression and voter irregularities. They’ve been asked to issue a report on their findings next year.

Blackwell said throughout his career “I’ve constantly worked to make sure that all of the traps have been run, all of the reviews have been taken to make sure that not one legal ballot is negated by an illegal ballot and that we clean up our voter rolls to reduce vulnerabilities in the system.”

RELATED: Lawsuits filed over Trump voting commission request

His own tenure as Ohio Secretary of State from 1999 to 2007 has been under renewed scrutiny since he was named to the commission. A recent LA Times article reported that Blackwell ordered county clerks not to accept voter registration on anything less than paper the thickness of a postcard. Blackwell later halted that requirement.

He was also criticized for accidentally distributing voter lists that had the full Social Security number of Ohio voters. The disks were eventually returned to Blackwell’s offices.

The renewed criticism irritates Blackwell. He said the postcard standard was established when Bob Taft was Secretary of State for a legitimate reason: During that era, there was a trend of having voter registration cards in newspapers. But the paper was flimsy enough that they were being lost in U.S. Postal Service mail sorters.

He blamed the release of data on “an inarticulation” of what was required by law, compounded by the need to release the information quickly in order to abide by the law. He said once his office was alerted to the issue, they worked to correct it quickly.

Catherine Turcer, a policy analyst for Common Cause Ohio who is an expert on elections issues, said the issue wasn’t Machiavellian in nature: The office screwed up, plain and simple.

“You know how they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder?” she said. “So is incompetence.”

The commission quickly became embroiled in controversy after it asked secretaries of state nationwide to provide voters’ personal information, including names, addresses and the last four digits of Social Security numbers. Some 45 states have refused to hand over the information and a watchdog organization has sued, saying the request violates privacy laws.

Blackwell said in states where law prohibits turning over the data, he understands the resistance. But some of the states who are refusing to turn over the data, he said, already have made the information requested publicly available elsewhere.

“At that point, all we’re talking about is expediting getting the information quicker,” he said.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Politics

Springfield urges use of licensed contractors after complaints
Springfield urges use of licensed contractors after complaints

The city of Springfield urges residents to use reliable, licensed contractors after receiving complaints about unlicensed businesses advertising on social media. Within the past week, a number of posts on Facebook Marketplace were posted about furnaces and air conditioning sales and installation services in Springfield, said Shannon Meadows, the city&rsquo...
Marsy’s Law could be problematic for Clark County judicial system
Marsy’s Law could be problematic for Clark County judicial system

A new statewide law approved by voters last year providing more rights to victims of crimes may have an impact on the local court system, Clark County officials said. MORE: Ohio may crack down on prostitution to fight opioid crisis The new law, which came into effect on Feb. 5, gives victims or anyone harmed by a crime the right to receive notifications...
Envelope with white powder sent to Sen. Portman’s office
Envelope with white powder sent to Sen. Portman’s office

Hazmat crews are testing white powder that was on an envelope received at U.S. Senator Rob Portman’s office in Columbus on Friday, according to 10TV . RELATED: Vanessa Trump taken to hospital after white powder scare Crews were called to 37 West Broad Street in downtown Columbus just before 4.p.m. Friday. Battalion Chief Steve Martin said the...
Retired Centerville police chief focus of investigation
Retired Centerville police chief focus of investigation

Centerville police chief Bruce Robertson’s recent retirement came amid an ongoing investigation into allegations of criminal conduct, according to city officials. “There were allegations of criminal conduct, therefore we’re following up with conducting an internal investigation into those allegations,” City Manager Wayne Davis...
Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates pleads guilty in Mueller investigation
Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates pleads guilty in Mueller investigation

Rick Gates, a former aide in President Donald Trump's campaign, pleaded guilty to making false statements and conspiring against the United States on Friday, making him the fifth person to enter a guilty plea in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
More Stories