COLUMBUS - Fifty-six of Ohio's 88 counties did not follow requirements to keep all of the ballots from the 2004 presidential election, which the state decided by giving George W. Bush the electoral votes he needed to win, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said.
Brunner, a Democrat, said her predecessor, Republican Ken Blackwell, didn't give the counties clear instructions for preserving the ballots and didn't notify them quickly about a September, 2006, order from U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley that they preserve the ballots they had.
Brunner said some county officials thought they could destroy the ballots 60 days after the election, but federal law says ballots from a presidential election must be kept for 22 months.
Lawyer Cliff Arnebeck, representing groups that sued Blackwell last year, said some ballots were destroyed to cover up voting irregularities. He wants Brunner and Attorney General Marc Dann to investigate the loss of the ballots.
Brunner said there's no evidence that ballots were intentionally destroyed. Matthew Damschroder, director of the Franklin County Board of Elections and president of the Ohio Association of Election Officials, also said counties did nothing intentionally wrong.
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