Ohio Secretary of State on ACORN Voter Fraud Allegations 'On the Record'

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," October 9, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: And if the economy isn't shaking you enough, try this. There are huge fears of voter fraud in the presidential election. We're 26 days from the election, one of the biggest horse races in American history. And already there is threat of big trouble. All eyes are on a handful of swing states where several voter fraud investigations are threatening a basic idea, whether or not free and fair elections will be held.

Tonight, we have a full report, starting in Ohio, where there is breaking news. As we reported earlier, a federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order and has ruled that an Ohio secretary of state, Jennifer Brunner, is breaking federal law, not taking enough steps to prevent voter fraud.

The secretary of state is appealing the decision and says in a statement, in part says, "My office will do everything in its power to ensure that the state's 88 county boards of elections can continue to allow early voting to proceed uninterrupted and to assist them with their preparation to ensure a smooth election for the voters of Ohio."

We have invited the secretary of state or someone from her office to comment on this latest development, and our request has been denied. And moments ago, though, we did speak to secretary of state Jennifer Brunner. We had asked her if she has any information that there is voter fraud happening in Ohio.


JENNIFER BRUNNER (D), OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: There are a number of, basically, allegations that don't have any evidence to support them. There's much more conjecture than anything else. We have a great number of procedures in our law that would prevent voter fraud in Ohio. But I think that some people are alarmed because we've had record numbers of people register to vote, and it tends to be the argument either voter suppression or voter fraud, depending upon which political party is pushing that issue.

VAN SUSTEREN: So right now, at least -- I mean, if you heard anyone come to you and say, Look, we think people are being registered to vote who shouldn't be registered to vote for whatever reasons, whether it's multiple times they've been registered or registering under false (INAUDIBLE) you have none of that on your plate as secretary of state. And if you did, you'd go out and investigate it.

BRUNNER: That's correct. I'm a former judge. I handled criminal cases here in Franklin County, and we take those allegations very seriously because those are felonies. We would prosecute. Secretary of state doesn't itself prosecute. We would refer it either to the attorney general or to a local county prosecutor.

VAN SUSTEREN: I talk to Joe Weasel of Palestra a little while ago and -- it's a student journalism organization and it's one that FOX News Channel has a financial interest in and has an ongoing relationship for because the students have reported for us and for others. But he said that two of his students were down looking at the voter registration and investigating whether or not there was voter registration fraud. And he said that today, they received a call from your office, from someone who they think was the director of communications, accusing them of shoddy journalism and being a mouthpiece for the Republican Party because they were reporting on voter registration irregularities. Do you know anything about that?

BRUNNER: No, I don't know anything about that, and I have regular communication with the folks on my communications staff.

VAN SUSTEREN: We're hearing that people are saying that -- I know Palestra is complaining, or at least has made -- I shouldn't have used the word "complaining," but at least has brought to the attention some voting issues. And I believe -- and I know that up in Cuyahoga County that there's some sort of suggestion that these are just rumblings, which is not evidence. And I'm just trying to make sure, since we're -- you know, we're under the wire, we've only got until November 4, that you would vigilantly investigate anything that came to your office.

BRUNNER: Yes, because in addition to being secretary of state, I am an attorney, I am a former judge, and I'm an officer of the court. And I will seek to uphold the law in all situations.

What -- these rumblings that you're hearing, it's quite interesting. Our office is being barraged by numerous, numerous, tens, dozens, hundreds of phone calls. In addition, people close to me who do not work in the secretary of state's office are getting calls from random callers about one issue after another concerning voter fraud, even at 2:00 in the morning.

So there is a concentrated effort going on out there to try to build the noise that you're discussing. And it's unfortunate because if we can find a specific allegation, we'll deal with it directly. But again, this creating fear in the minds of law-abiding citizens that somehow their vote is not going to count or that it's going to be diluted is a huge disservice to the voters of Ohio and to the rest of the country.


Watch Greta's interview with Ohio Secretary Brunner

Watch Greta's interview with former Ohio Secretary Blackwell

VAN SUSTEREN: After we conducted this interview with the secretary of state in Ohio, we received a complaint from the secretary's office about the interview. Now, we've posted on Gretawire a statement, a letter from them, because we want to make sure you read it and leave any comments that you have. So go to Gretawire.com and it is posted, the letter of complaint from the secretary's office.

And the presidential election in 2004 literally came down to Ohio. And that year, there were multiple indictments in Ohio for voter fraud. Ken Blackwell is the former secretary of state of Ohio and was in office during the 2004 election. Secretary Blackwell joins us live.

Secretary Blackwell, this is the news that since that taped interview with the current secretary of state -- I didn't ask her about it because the issue (INAUDIBLE) federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order against her. Can you explain -- can you explain what the problem is and why the federal judge stepped in?

KEN BLACKWELL (R), FORMER OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: In Ohio, elections are managed at the local level. We have 88 county boards of elections with equal number of Democrats and Republicans. We are protected (ph) against a central office controlling elections, which would mean (ph) that it would be an easier target of opportunity for someone trying to fix, rig or disrupt an election. So there is safety in decentralization.

So what the people at the local level are saying is, Let us do our job. Give us the tools, empower us so that we can did our job. And the secretary's instinct is to centralize, is to control, is to manage from Columbus, our state capital.

And I think what the federal judge is saying is that, Look, the responsibility for managing elections is at the local level. You must empower, you must allow them to verify the truthfulness of voter applications, and they must be able to say that the whole principle that is the foundation of our democracy, one person, one vote, one election.

VAN SUSTEREN: Secretary Blackwell, it's sort of -- it's interesting to note that -- I mean, I -- she's going to take this case -- she's going to appeal this temporary restraining order against her to the United States court of appeals for the sixth circuit, so there will be another review.

BLACKWELL: Absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: But just -- without -- I mean, just so the viewers get an idea of politics in your state, and it's not to assign any sort of partisanship on behalf of the current secretary...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... But this was brought -- this temporary restraining order was brought by the Ohio Republican Party. And what party is she a member of? Is she a Democrat or a Republican?

BLACKWELL: She is a Democrat. But again, Greta, I want to underscore something. We won't be able to solve this crisis in confidence unless we do it on a bipartisan basis. And so whatever our philosophical difference is, we must pull together to build voter confidence in the election returns. And the way that you do that is that you trust but you verify. And you must be able to verify the veracity of voter registrations and the vote count at the local level, at the county level in the state of Ohio.

VAN SUSTEREN: And of course, when you say it's bipartisan -- and the only thing that sort of rubs everybody a little bit raw right now is it's not like this election is a big surprise. We've known about it for four years and we're 27 days out. And to fight any sort of effort to trust and verify is distressing because we need to have confidence.

BLACKWELL: Well, it is distressing. And let me just say this. I think it's outrageous that someone would suggest that there is not enough evidence to be highly suspicious of a rogue organization like ACORN. They do a disservice to the community-based organizations across this country that try to empower the poor and to make sure that we have -- give voice to all of our citizens. This is an organization that has a history of voter fraud. This is an organization that in at least 12 states are under investigation. And I'll just tell you that in Nevada, it's a Democrat...

VAN SUSTEREN: And I've got to go.

BLACKWELL: There's a Democrat secretary of state bringing the charge.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Ken. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Thank you.

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