Conyers' letter to Ohio GOP election head
asking explanations of vote irregularities

Below this 15-page letter is Blackwell's stonewall and Conyers' response.










Blackwell stonewalls Conyers' letter

December 14, 2004

The Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
The Honorable Linda T. Sanchez
The Honorable Tammy Baldwin
The Honorable Melvin L. Watt
The Honorable Jerrold Nadler
The Honorable Maxine Waters
The Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee

Congress of the United States
House of Representatives
Committee on the Judiciary
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-6216

Dear Representatives:

Thank you for your letter concerning the November 2004 Presidential election
in the state of Ohio. Ohio election officials have succeeded in performing
their duties with diligence and attention to detail in one of the most
closely watched elections in history. We were prepared for the challenge and
have followed Ohio statutes and Constitution as they apply to the election
requirements in this state.

As Secretary of State and Chief Elections Officer for Ohio, I have directed
my staff to respond to inquiries from the Government Accountability Office
and the U. S. Department of Justice, both of which have been authorized by
Congress to assess any alleged violations of the "Help America Vote Act"
(hereinafter HAVA) in any state or jurisdiction. Since these entities have
the authority and jurisdiction to respond to matters that relate to
enforcement of HAVA, my office will work with them in order to assist in the
assessment of any matters, which may be of concern from both the state and
federal levels for compliance with applicable Iaws.

In general, I have the utmost confidence in the integrity of the bipartisan
elections officials in Ohio. We are resolved to bring to light any issues of
substance that may be necessary to investigate through the officials
designated with this responsibility. We are ready to eliminate the myths
that may be circulating of unfair or discriminatory treatment of qualified
Ohio electors at the polls.

My office will scrupulously review and assist in any matters referred to us
by the Government Accountability Office or the Department of Justice in
relation to Ohio election activities. I appreciate the concerns raised by
some members of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary
and the interest in reviewing election issues raised at the state level.
However, I strongly believe that Congress has already designated the
Government Accountability Office and the Department of Justice to review
election activities and empowered them with the authority to thoroughly
investigate any matters brought forward by Ohio citizens. My office
continues to be available to participate as needed in that process.

Thank you again for your letter and I urge you as well to participate as
necessary in any efforts directed to your committee by the Department of
Justice or the Government Accountability Office, as authorized by Congress.

Sincerely,
J. Kenneth Blackwell
Ohio Secretary of State


Conyers blasts Blackwell stonewall

The Honorable J. Kenneth Blackwell
Ohio Secretary of State
180 East Broad Street, 16th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215

Dear Secretary Blackwell:

I am in receipt of your December 14 response to the letter I, and eleven
other Members of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote to you on December 2.
Frankly, I find your response disappointing and unacceptable and I am
dismayed that it took nearly two weeks for you to proffer a letter that does
not respond to a single one of our 36 questions.

In light of comments made by your spokesman, your decision to not respond to
a single question we posed to you is surprising. Your spokesman had led the
media to believe you would be "more than happy to fill in the gaps" for us
and that "most" issued had already been explained in "news reports." I have
yet to see answers to any of our 36 questions in news reports or anywhere
else and I was very much looking forward to your assistance in locating such
reports.

I was also looking forward to your filling "in the gaps" between what the
Government Accountability Office is assessing and what we are investigating..
I am sure you are aware that the Comptroller General has indicated that the
GAO is "not authorized to engage in enforcement efforts relating to specific
allegations of voting irregularities." In contrast, our letter contained a
number of very specific allegations of such irregularities, which we are
currently investigating, along with additional troubling information we have
received since our letters to you.

Nor is it compelling to argue that Congress cannot investigate a matter
simultaneously with the GAO and/or the Department of Justice. In the past
year alone, while the GAO was studying a number of issues, Congress was
concurrently investigating. Similarly, a Department of Justice investigation
has also never served as a bar to a congressional investigation.

Your refusal to answer the 36 questions we posed to you is unfortunate and
part of a pattern of decisions that have worked to obstruct and stonewall a
search for the truth about Ohio voting irregularities. If these allegations
are as obviously baseless as you have claimed, it would seem that you could
perform a public service by dispelling them. The voters deserve no less.

I, therefore, renew my request for you to respond to these inquiries and
remain faithful to the commitment you made, through your spokesman, to
assist our search for the truth.

Sincerely,
John Conyers, Jr.
Ranking Member

cc: Democratic Members, House Judiciary Committee
F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., Chairman


Return to SunMt voting questions archive