Cuyahoga Co. Elections Director Resigns
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The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections on Tuesday announced that it has accepted the resignation of its embattled chief.
Executive director Michael Vu's ouster marks the end of a tense term that thrust Cuyahoga County and its voters in the national spotlight. Under Vu, the county weathered a botched primary election and convictions of two workers who mishandled the 2004 presidential recount.
BOE Releases Statement
Bob Bennett, chairman of the county Elections Board and head of the state Republican Party, said the board negotiated the departure with Vu.
"Yes, Michael is going to be leaving. But we need to have a transition period, and it's very important to us that Michael agrees to stay around and help with the (new) director, particularly having a new system, and get his feet on the ground," Bennett told The Associated Press. "We're pretty close to being finished."
After a closed-door session, the Board announced that Vu's resignation will be effective March 1. Vu will stay on with the board through June as a consultant in order to ease the transition to new leadership.
The board also announced that deputy director Gwen Dillingham will also be leaving, and the terms of her departure will be finalized within the next couple of weeks.
The board said that a search committee has been appointed to oversee the review of candidates to replace Vu. The committee includes several local officials, including Democratic Party Chair Jimmy Dimora and Republican Party Chair Robert Frost.
At age 28, Vu was hired in 2003 to take over the largest and arguably most problematic elections board in the bellwether state during a hard-fought and close presidential campaign. In November 2004, Cuyahoga, which has more than 1 million registered voters, was among the counties with long lines and complaints over provisional ballots. The election ended with Ohio giving President Bush the electoral votes needed to narrowly win the White House over Democratic U.S. Sen. John Kerry.
Before Vu's appointment, the county had a history of troubles, including absentee ballots invalidated because they were counted twice, shortages of ballots, misplaced ballots, votes cast by unregistered voters and voters who were not told of a change in their polling places.
Under his watch, problems continued.
Last May's primary, the first attempt at electronic voting in the county, 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.
And last month, two elections board workers were convicted of illegally rigging the 2004 presidential election recount so they could avoid a more thorough review of the votes.
Vu defended those workers and their decision to pick ahead of time the ballots they would count in what was supposed to be a random sample. He said the workers followed longtime procedures and did nothing wrong.
A Democrat who learned the elections business in Republican-dominated Utah, Vu has a black belt in martial arts and has a political science degree from the University of Utah. He worked for seven years for the Salt Lake County Elections Division in various administrative and research roles.
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