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Tax-and-Spend Tom 

When it comes to burning tax dollars, Blackwell's Bic is always ready.

Uncle Tom Blackwell has been trying to smear Ted Strickland as a tax-and-spend liberal, but when it comes to blowing money, the Secretary of State has few peers.

During his tenure, Blackwell has raised spending in his office by 80 percent. Now he's helped blow $1 million in Lake County.

Back in 1999, the county was among the first to adopt electronic voting machines. But five years later, after two controversial presidential elections, state legislators decreed that all voting machines must produce a paper record -- and Lake County's didn't.

Though county elections officials tried to broker a compromise -- modifying existing machines so that they would produce a paper receipt -- lawyers for the Secretary of State's office weren't buying.

So last week, the commissioners had to sell the machines back to the manufacturer for a paltry $27,500.

"I think we have seen a product of what can happen when there is a distrust of the top election official in the state of Ohio," says Elections Board Director Jan Clair.

The new equipment will bring even more expenses. Clair expects the board to spend $21,000 on paper for the receipts, as well as an additional $48,000 for optical-scan ballots.

"This is my third Secretary of State that I served under," says Clair, a registered Republican. "And I am glad that we have the privacy of the curtain to keep my vote private."

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