December 10, 2004
Blackwell Locks Out Recount Volunteers
Subject: Blackwell Locks Down Ohio Voting Records
Ohio Election Investigation Thwarted by Surprise Blackwell Order
Dayton, Ohio Friday December 10, 2004
On Friday December 10 two certified volunteers for the Ohio Recount team assigned to Greene County were in process recording voting information from minority precincts in Greene County, and were stopped mid-count by a surprise order from Secretary of State Blackwell’s office. The Director Board of Elections stated that “all voter records for the state of Ohio were “locked-down,” and now they are not considered public records.”
The volunteers were working with voter printouts received directly from Carole Garman, Director, Greene County Board of Elections. Joan Quinn and Eve Roberson, retired attorney and election official respectively, were hand-copying voter discrepancies from precinct voting books on behalf of the presidential candidates Mr. Cobb (Green) and Mr. Badnarik Libertarian) who had requested the recount.
One of the goals of the recount was to determine how many minority voters were unable to vote or denied voting at the polls. Upon requesting copies of precinct records from predominantly minority precincts, Ms. Garman contacted Secretary of State Blackwell’s office and spoke to Pat Wolfe, Election Administrator. Ms. Wolfe told Ms. Garman to assert that all voter records for the State of Ohio were “locked down” and that they are “not considered public records.”
Quinn and Roberson asked specifically for the legal authority authorizing Mr. Blackwell to “lock down” public records. Garman stated that it was the Secretary of State’s decision. Ohio statute requires the Directors of Boards of Election to comply with public requests for inspection and copying of public election records. As the volunteer team continued recording information from the precinct records in question, Garman entered the room and stated she was withdrawing permission to inspect or copy any voting records at the Board of Elections. Garman then physically removed the precinct book from Ms. Roberson’s hands. They later requested the records again from Garman’s office, which was again denied.
Ohio Revised Code Title XXXV Elections, Sec. 3503.26 that requires all election records to be made available for public inspection and copying. ORC Sec. 3599.161 makes it a crime for any employee of the Board of Elections to knowingly prevent or prohibit any person from inspecting the public records filed in the office of the Board of Elections. Finally, ORC Sec. 3599.42 clearly states: “A violation of any provision of Title XXXV (35) of the Revised Code constitutes a prima facie case of election fraud within the purview of such Title.”