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Troubled elections chief quits in Ohio

From the Associated Press

The elections chief in Ohio’s most populous county resigned Tuesday, ending a tenure that included the mishandled recount of President Bush’s narrow 2004 win in Ohio that gave him a second term.

Under Board of Elections Director Michael Vu, Cuyahoga County had a botched primary in May and saw the convictions last month of two workers who rigged the presidential recount so they could avoid a more thorough review of the ballots.

The actions of the two workers, whom the board fired Tuesday, did not affect the outcome of the election. But the convictions were the final black eye for Vu, 30, who led the rocky transition from punch-card to electronic voting.

“This was a once-in-a-generation challenge for those of us who work in the world of elections,” Vu said.

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Vu was hired at about $119,000 a year in 2003 to take over the largest and arguably most problematic elections system in the bellwether state during a hard-fought and close presidential campaign.

Board Chairman Robert T. Bennett, also the leader of the state Republican Party, said the board realized Vu had a tough job.

Before Vu’s appointment, the county had a history of trouble providing and properly counting ballots and informing voters of changes in polling places.

The May primary, the county’s first attempt at electronic voting, was marred by poll workers who were not prepared to operate the machines, some poll workers who didn’t show up to work and vote-holding memory cards that were misplaced or lost.

Vu agreed to stay on as a consultant while the board -- which oversees elections in the largely Democratic county of more than 1 million registered voters -- looks for and trains a new director.


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