Official: Hearing was wrong place for criticism

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 28, 2005

COLUMBUS (AP) - The elections director in Ohio's biggest county blasted the way the state counts the votes of people whose names aren't on the registration books at their polling place, during a hearing held by a federal commission charged with improving elections nationwide.

Another county director, who heads the county directors' association, didn't feel Michael Vu's criticism of the system was appropriate.

Vu, a Democrat, said Wednesday that the law on how to count provisional ballots needs clarification to avoid the confusion experienced in Ohio during the presidential election.

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A state-issued directive that poll workers refuse provisional ballots for people who try to vote in a precinct where they don't live seemed to conflict with federal law, said Vu, director of the Cuyahoga County elections board.

''Ohio's provisional balloting was not a model for the nation to follow,'' Vu said.

Vu's testimony before the commission wasn't the place to speak out, Allen County elections director Keith Cunningham, a Republican, said.

''I was disappointed the way it played out,'' said Cunningham, who also heads the Ohio Association of Elections Officials. ''I didn't think it should have been the forum for Mr. Vu to vent his frustration.''

The author of the directive, Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, defended the state's performance in the Nov. 2 election.