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Published: Tuesday, 2/6/2007

Cuyahoga County elections chief resigns


CLEVELAND The embattled elections chief in Ohio s most populous county resigned today, ending a tense term that thrust Cuyahoga County voting in the national spotlight.

The elections board announced the decision by executive director Michael Vu after a nearly two-hour closed-door meeting. Under Vu, the county weathered a botched primary election and convictions of two workers who mishandled the 2004 presidential recount.

The resignation is effective March ,1 and Vu has agreed to stay on through June as a consultant to help the board as it looks for and trains a new director.

The board, which oversee elections in the largely Democratic-voting county with more than 1 million registered voters, has formed a search committee to find Vu s replacement.

Vu, 30, was hired at $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.

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.

Vu said that it was his decision to resign, based in part on his realization that the board wanted new leadership for the 2008 election.

The decision was mutual, he said.

The time is right to turn the leadership of the board over to new hands, Vu said. By leaving now there will be ample time to find a new director and to provide that person with the time necessary to plan for a successful 2008 presidential election year.

After the meeting, board chairman Bob Bennett, also the leader of the state Republican Party, said the board realized that Vu had a tough job, especially the transition to electronic voting from punch cards.

The board is happy Vu is staying for a few more months as a consultant, Bennett said.

Gwendolyn Dillingham, the board s assistant director, also is leaving.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com

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