Ohio Elections Chief Takes Over Embattled Board In State's Most Populous County

Monday, April 2nd 2007, 8:11 pm
By: News On 6

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ The state's elections chief took control of the elections board in Ohio's most populous county Monday as part of her ongoing effort to change how the troubled panel is run.

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner announced she is placing the Cuyahoga County board under state administrative oversight through the end of next year. That means Brunner must approve any changes to policy and procedure.

Brunner, a Democrat who took office in January, accuses the board of shoddy election work. She has forced three board members to resign and is fighting to remove a fourth, Bob Bennett, who is also the head of the state's Republican Party.

``During this time of transition, the voters of Cuyahoga County deserve stability in their elections system,'' Brunner said.

Brunner's action is a partisan effort to control elections in a heavily Democratic county during next year's presidential race, said John McClelland, Ohio Republican Party spokesman.

Cuyahoga County includes all of Cleveland and has 1 million registered voters.

The biggest immediate impact is that Brunner and not the local elections board will oversee the county's May primary.

A complaint Brunner filed against the board last week said it ignored warnings, including one by its own outside monitor, that a recount of the 2004 presidential election was being conducted in violation of state rules.

The complaint also said the board had failed to manage its finances and had underestimated the cost of last May's primary by $500,000.

Bennett has sued Brunner to keep his board position.