J. Kenneth Blackwell

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John Kenneth Blackwell

J. Kenneth Blackwell is the former Ohio Secretary of State and former Ohio gubernatorial candidate. Blackwell and former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay co-founded the Coalition for a Conservative Majority (CCM) in November 2007 as a "new grass-roots organization [to] help conservatives better convey their message to voters and take back control of Congress."[1]

In mid-March 2007, Blackwell "hired on as a Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment at Washington's premiere right-wing religious lobbying outfit," the Family Research Council.[2]

In the 2006 congressional election, Blackwell ran against Rep. Ted Strickland, 6th Congressional District Democratic incumbent who was giving up his seat to run for Ohio governor. Strickland defeated Blackwell by 23 percentage points.[3]

Despite allegations of widespread vote rigging in his state and an ongoing lawsuit over the same, in December 2008, Blackwell wrote to the Republican National Committee (RNC) "after prayerful consideration," asking to be considered for the chairmanship of the RNC.[4]

2004 election controversy

Ohio voters sued Blackwell on August 31, 2006 in a case called King Lincoln Bronzeville Neighborhood Association v. Blackwell in which individual voters and three voters' rights groups alleged that, in his capacity as Secretary of State, Blackwell "allocated [2004] election resources in a racially discriminatory manner and instituted racially discriminatory procedures for provisional voting, purging voters from the statewide voter registration database, and maintaining the chain of custody of ballots. The complaint alleged that these actions led to the dilution and/or cancellation of plaintiffs' vote due to ballot cancellation and tampering, long poll lines, mechanical difficulties with voting machines, and unclear precinct boundaries." The complaint claims that plaintiffs reasonably feared these problems would recur in the November, 2006, election, and asked the court to appoint a special master to perform Blackwell's election administration duties in that election.[5]

A Canton, New York resident named Richard Hayes Phillips who worked with the Ohio Honest Elections Campaign said he examined thousands of punch-card ballots cast in Ohio's heavily Democratic inner-city precincts that were tossed out because of over- or under-voting in the 2004 presidential race. Phillips said he found that on more than 1,900 ballots in six urban counties, there was a vote for President Bush or Senator John Kerry, and a second vote for one of the two independent candidates. In cases such as these, no presidential vote is counted. Philips noted that the problem was unusually prevalent, and appeared to be concentrated in every fifth precinct, and concluded the ballots in the urban areas must have been pre-punched, disproportionately affecting Kerry votes. [6]

Blackwell is the focus of many allegations regarding the U.S. presidential election, 2004, vote count controversy while serving as Ohio Secretary of State.

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman reported[7] prior to the election the following abuses of his power in the weeks leading up to the vote, consisting mostly of a series of rulings that favored President Bush's side:

  • "Republican Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell has reversed a long-standing Ohio practice and is barring voters from casting provisional ballots within their county if they are registered to vote but there's been a mistake about where they are expected to cast their ballot. In this year's spring primaries, Blackwell allowed voters to cast provisional ballots by county, even if they were in the wrong precinct. But this fall, such voters will have to leave the wrong precinct and find their way to the right one. Blackwell hopes to succeed Republican Bob Taft as governor, and has labored hard to install e-voting machines with no paper trail, to give the statewide contract to Diebold, and to take a long series of steps apparently designed to help hand Ohio to George W. Bush. Blackwell is being widely compared to the infamous Katherine Harris, who handed Florida to George W. Bush in 2000 and was rewarded with a safe Congressional seat."
  • "The Columbus Dispatch (which has endorsed Bush) and WVKO Radio have both documented phone calls from people impersonating Board of Elections workers and directing registered voters to different and incorrect polling sites. One individual was falsely told not to vote at the polling station across the street from his house, but at a 'new' site, four miles away. Under Blackwell's new rules, such a vote would not be counted."
  • "Secretary of State Blackwell ruled that any voter registration form on other than 80-pound weight bond paper would not be accepted. This is an old law left over from pre-scanning days. Many voters who had registered on lighter paper, had their registration returned, even though the forms had been officially sanctioned by local election boards."

On November 13, 2004, blackboxvoting.org alleged that Blackwell was responsible for "failure to properly account for provisional ballots, and refusing to allow citizens to see the pollbooks." This as part of the Help America Audit - an electoral fraud audit based on forensic audit techniques - that Bev Harris has initiated in parallel with the U.S. presidential election, 2004, Ohio vote recount by David Cobb of the Green Party of the United States and Michael Badnarik of the Libertarian Party of the United States.

Another obvious but apparently unnoticed conflict of interest may have stemmed from Blackwell's involvement with conservative Christian broadcasting media giant Salem Communications Corporation and its Salem Radio Network. Jon Rappaport wrote November 3, 2004:

"Mr. Blackwell is a member of the national advisory boards of Youth for Christ and was formerly a domestic policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. Mr. Blackwell has held the nation's highest security clearance. He is a contributing commentator for Salem Communications, delivering commentaries on Salem's more than 90 [Christian] radio stations nationwide."

Rappaport concluded his article "Enter, Mr. Blackwell: Was He Bush's Trump-Card in Ohio" with:

"I'm not making the point that Blackwell is bad because he's a Republican. I'm illustrating that this is a very ambitious man who's positioned as a Republican FOR BUSH and for what Bush believes, right down to his shoes. A man who campaigned resolutely for Bush and THEN oversaw the state election which handed Bush a second term. A man who is a player in the Republican party, who knows the score, who can give favors and then ask for favors back, as he pushes his own career upward.
"Is this a conflict of interest that could have led Blackwell to improperly set the conditions for a Bush triumph? Is the Pope Catholic?"


  • With Jerome Corsi, Rebuilding America: A Prescription for Creating Strong Families, Building the Wealth of Working People, and Ending Welfare, WND Books, May 2006 (Hardcover), ISBN 1581825013.


Related SourceWatch articles


  1. Eric Pfeiffer, "DeLay founds coalition to polish GOP message," Washington Times, November 16, 2007.
  2. "Ken Blackwell Joins FRC as Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment", Family Research Council, March 14, 2007.
  3. Ohio Governor Election Results, CNN.com, Accessed March 15, 2008.
  4. Joe Hallett, Columbus, Ohio Dispatch Blackwell wants to head up RNC Sweeping changes needed, not being proposed, he says Sunday, December 7, 2008.
  5. Ohio State University, Election Law@Moritz King Lincoln Bronzeville Neighborhood Association v. Blackwell Web site, updated December 23, 2008. Accessed December 25, 2008
  6. Jim Siegel, the Columbus DispatchNew lawsuit alleges ballot tampering in 2004 election; Group says ballots in Democratic precincts were pre-punched, negating Kerry votes Friday, September 1, 2006
  7. Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, "Twelve ways Bush is now stealing the Ohio vote," Free Press, October 27, 2004.

General information

External articles