The Republican gubernatorial primary was just weeks away, and then-Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell had his sights set on securing the nomination. Blackwell had served as mayor of Cincinnati and state treasurer before becoming Ohio’s top elections official, so a bid for governor in 2006 seemed a logical next step in his political career. But in March of that year, his office caused a stir: The full Social Security numbers of 1.2 million Ohio voters were posted accidentally on the secretary of state’s website. A month later, in a separate incident, Blackwell’s office inadvertently distributed voter lists with the Social Security numbers of 5.7 million voters. The numbers, by law, are supposed to remain private. “It wasn’t good at all,” said former Ohio Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland in an interview. “Sloppy … that’s what it was.”
While the two blunders didn’t prevent Blackwell from securing the nomination that May, he went on to lose the governor’s contest to Strickland. That contest and the Social Security debacle combined to make Blackwell well-known — at least briefly — outside Ohio. Now, it appears he’s about to step into the national spotlight again.
Blackwell, 69, has been tapped to serve on the Trump administration’s bipartisan voter fraud commission, an endeavor election officials nationwide have called a waste of time.