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SECRETARY OF STATE Rep. Trakas to seek office, voices need for ballot fix



Published: Tue, February 22, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The candidate says he favors electronic voting machines.

COLUMBUS -- State Rep. Jim Trakas, a Republican candidate for Ohio Secretary of State, said he believes the state should move toward electronic voting.

"I think that optical scan [paper ballot voting] will work in some counties," but in the majority of the state "you want to have electronic voting," said Trakas, from the Cleveland suburb of Independence.

On Monday Trakas declared he will seek the secretary of state post next year.

Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, also a Republican, issued a directive in January to all 88 county boards of elections ordering them to choose by Feb. 9 one of two optical-scan voting systems using paper ballots.

Several counties have indicated they prefer electronic touch-screen voting machines but the secretary of state has decided there's not enough money or time to obtain them by a May 2006 deadline for replacing outdated voting equipment.

According to news reports, at least three counties -- Franklin, Portage and Cuyahoga -- have gone to court to prevent the secretary of state from enforcing the orders.

Four-term representative

Trakas, 39, is a four-term state representative whose House district includes much of southeastern Cuyahoga County.

A past majority whip, Trakas is vice chairman of the House Elections and Ethics Committee. Trakas also serves on the House Economic Development and Environment and House Finance and Appropriations committees.

Trakas also serves on the House Higher Education Subcommittee and is a former city councilman in Independence.

Trakas said he resigned as Cuyahoga County Republican Party chairman earlier this year in anticipation of his candidacy.

Race is not cheap

Blackwell has announced he will seek the Republican nomination to succeed Bob Taft as governor next year. Taft, a Republican, is prevented from running again because of state term limits.

No other Republicans or any Democrats have announce they are running for secretary of state.

As secretary of state, Trakas said he would seek to fight fraud and abuse in elections.

The secretary of state's office is the chief elections officer as well as the chief registrar of all businesses. Trakas vowed to ensure "that Ohio is open for business by reducing bureaucratic barriers that inhibit the entrepreneurial spirit." Trakas said he will announce specific proposals in the coming weeks.

Trakas said he expects a statewide campaign will cost between $2.5 million and $3 million including a primary- and general-election campaign.

Candidates for statewide office don't have to file nominating petitions until early next year.




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