The chairman of the America First Policy Institute’s Center for Election Integrity (AFPI) told The Star News Network that he is watching for how elections run in 2022 and 2024 based on lessons learned from the poor handling of the 2020 presidential election.
“Look back and see that in 1918 you had the Spanish Flu, then in 1929, you had a complete economic collapse, in 1968, you had the riots, and in 1974, we had the Nixon impeachment—well, in 2020, you had all of those things happening in one year,” said J. Kenneth “Ken” Blackwell, who joined AFPI in July after a long career in public service and academia, including service as Ohio’s secretary of state and as the mayor of Cincinnati.
“It was such an opportunity for corruption and corrupting the system,” he said.
Blackwell said when he looks at an election’s integrity, he looks at two tracks, the verification track and the chain of custody track.
“Rahm Emanuel, when he was President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, said: ‘Never let a crisis go to waste,’ and we saw an extraordinary loosening of the chain of custody rules, and they scrubbed away all of the verification processes,” he said.
The former Xavier University football standout said he is also serving as the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) co-chairman, an organization with a bipartisan board split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, funded by the United States Agency for International Development.
From his work at IFES, Blackwell said he had had the opportunity to study election procedures worldwide.
The Democrats undermined verification processes and voter ID laws by ramping up mail-in ballots, he said.
“There is not another country in the world, developing or developed, that utilizes mail-in ballots in voting to the extent we utilized them in the United States in 2020,” he said.
“It makes it much more difficult to do voter verification,” he said.
Blackwell, a shareholder in the Cincinnati Reds, said he is still angry that Major League Baseball pulled the All-Star Game from Atlanta after Georgia tightened its rules for voter IDs and voter verification—especially since the game was moved to Denver.
“If you compare the Georgia law and the existing law in Colorado, Colorado’s laws are more restrictive,” he said. “In fact, if I leave someone tickets at the will call window in Cincinnati—they have to show a photo ID to pick up the tickets.”
Many of Blackwell’s ideas about election integrity are in the Yale Law Policy Review article he wrote with Kenneth A. Klukowski, “The Other Voting Right: Protecting Every Citizen’s Vote by Safeguarding the Integrity of the Ballot Box,” said the former Ohio state treasurer.
“In the article, Ken and I wrote we are protecting every citizen’s vote by safeguarding the integrity of the ballot box,” said the one-time U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
“Because it ran in the Yale Law Policy Review, it became very difficult for the Left to scream that this was somehow some sort of rightwing publication,” he said.
“One of the grounding points in the article for the review was that not only do we have voting rights, but we have citizen duties, which mean we must take practical steps to build confidence in the results,” he said.
He said that a photo ID is among the practical steps that are part of these citizen duties. “Particularly, where states that require photo ID’s have made the photo ID free, so there is no undue hardship.”
Blackwell said the dismantling of rules for the chain of custody and voter verification meant that voters lost confidence in the results of the 2020 presidential election.
“Then, you have to consider that no president running for reelection, who received more votes than in his first election, like President Donald Trump did, lost reelection—going back at least 150 years,” he said.
“Or that out of 19 bellwether counties that have picked the winner in every election from 1980 to 2016—Trump won 18 out of 19,” he said.
Something happened in 2020, and it cannot be repeated in 2022 or 2024, he said.
“The foundation of this country is liberty, and the core expression of that liberty is to vote in a free and fair election.”
– – –
Neil W. McCabe is the national political editor for The Star News Network. Follow him on Twitter: @neilwmccabe2
Photo “Ken Blackwell” by Ken Blackwell. Background Photo “Voting Booths” by Tim Evanson. CC BY-SA 2.0.