Dear Governor Taft,

Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell must recuse himself from overseeing the Ohio recount. Here are some of the reasons:

(1) He was the chairman of the Bush campaign in Ohio. This alone would give any certification of election results by Blackwell the appearance of impropriety.

(2) His election day meeting in Columbus with President George W. Bush and Franklin County Board of Elections Director Matt Damschroder, widely accused of overseeing inequitable partisan distribution of voting machines, is highly suspicious.

(3) On election night, Blackwell helped cajole Kerry into conceding prematurely by stressing the uncounted provisional ballots without mentioning the uncounted punch card ballots, thereby giving the false impression that there were not enough outstanding votes to affect the outcome.

(4) Blackwell has tucked away the data for total votes cast into his "historical" archives at the official Secretary of State website. Only by subtracting the total votes for president from the total votes cast can one calculate the actual number of uncounted punch card ballots.

(5) Blackwell has taken down the election results from the official Secretary of State website.

(6) Blackwell is actively working to stall the initial count of provisional ballots, which even now is only 15% completed, and to delay the recount until after he certifies the winner.

It is essential that we have free and fair elections, with an open and publicly monitored count of the votes, if we are to have anything approaching a democracy. How can we presume to sponsor free and fair elections in Iraq if we cannot do it in Ohio?

Richard Hayes Phillips, Ph.D.
Canton, NY