Right-wing activist Ken Blackwell, a former Ohio Secretary of State criticized for voter suppression practices and an adviser to the Trump-Pence campaign, pulled out all the rhetorical stops in an attack on Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf published by the American Thinker Monday under the headline, “Governor Wolf and his legion of darkness must be stopped in Pennsylvania.”
Here’s how Blackwell’s diatribe began:
What is happening in Pennsylvania is a dark moment for America. Under the leadership of Governor Wolf and his liberal regime, the Pennsylvania elections system has been completely compromised. It has become clear the leadership in this state is anti-democratic, does not value our Constitution, and is engaged in an outright attack on the legal votes that have been cast by the good, hardworking people of the Commonwealth.
In reality, there is no evidence to support Blackwell’s—or the Trump campaign’s—charges of massive voter fraud in Pennsylvania. Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania told the TODAY show last Friday that it was “hard to watch” President Donald Trump’s lie-filled remarks last Thursday, saying, “The president’s charges of large-scale fraud—there’s no evidence here.” Trump has publicly charged that Republican poll watchers were prevented from observing counting in Pennsylvania, but Republican lawyers admitted in federal court that charge was not true.
On Monday, the Trump campaign sued to stop the certification of the election results in Pennsylvania; the Associated Press noted, “The 85-page lawsuit itself contained no evidence of voter fraud, other than a smattering of allegations.”
“Pennsylvania is going to fight every single attempt to disenfranchise voters,” Wolf’s office said Monday. “We will protect this election and the democratic process. Pennsylvania will count every vote, and we will protect the count of every vote.”
But Blackwell, a member of Trump’s 2016 transition team and a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, claimed that Pennsylvania Democrats desired to “conduct this election in the dark,” citing a Bible verse that says “people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”
“It could not be clearer that the Democrat-run Pennsylvania executive government only wants votes counted that support their agenda and their candidates,” Blackwell charged. He alleged, without substantiation, that the Wolf administration intends “to slant the vote for their candidates” in what he called “the most egregious abuse of power I have ever witnessed in my decades of working on elections.”
Blackwell cited his own experience as Ohio’s top election official to lend credibility to his claims that “actions taken this cycle by the Pennsylvania executive government are abnormal, unethical, and downright corrupt.”
“Thankfully, President Trump and Republicans across America are fighting back, and will not allow this election to be stolen by the partisan hacks who have shown themselves to be enemies of a free and fair election process,” Blackwell wrote. “The people of Pennsylvania deserve to have every legal vote counted. In my days as Secretary of State in Ohio, this would never have been a question.”
But advocates for ballot access would hardly describe Blackwell’s tenure as Ohio’s Secretary of State as characterizing a nonpartisan approach to fairness. Far from it.
“Blackwell showed no inclination for fair voting practices while he was Ohio Secretary of State, and there is no indication he has had a change of heart,” noted the Ohio ACLU’s Katrice Williams in 2017, when Blackwell was appointed to Trump’s farcical and short-lived “election integrity” commission. The commission folded having “uncovered no evidence to support claims of widespread voter fraud,” the AP reported. At the time, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law characterized Blackwell as one of the “four horsemen of voter suppression” named to the “sham” commission.
One of Blackwell’s most notorious moves was his instruction to elected officials not to accept voter registrations unless they were printed on very heavy paper. Williams documented other notable efforts at voter suppression during Blackwell’s tenure.
Blackwell’s machinations were widely publicized at the time.
“Every significant decision that Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell made regarding the 2004 presidential election benefited George W. Bush,” wrote City Beat reporter Pete Shuler after the 2004 elections. He noted that Blackwell was honorary co-chair of Bush’s 2004 Ohio campaign and served as an election expert spinning the Bush campaign’s line to the media during the ballot recounts in Florida that ensued after the 2000 campaign.
Blackwell ran for governor in 2006 but was soundly defeated by Democrat Ted Strickland. In 2011, when he was pondering a run for the U.S. Senate, Mother Jones noted that in 2004 Blackwell “was accused of throwing the presidential vote in that crucial swing state in favor of George W. Bush and overseeing ‘massive and unprecedented voter irregularities and anomalies’ that disenfranchised tens of thousands of voters.”
The American Thinker, where Blackwell’s article was published this week, has been known to publish commentary from white nationalists