The secretary of state, who declared President Bush the official winner in Ohio, is seeking a court order to keep himself from being interviewed as part of a court challenge of...

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — The secretary of state, who declared President Bush the official winner in Ohio, is seeking a court order to keep himself from being interviewed as part of a court challenge of the Nov. 2 vote.

Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell claims his deposition is not required and accused 37 voters challenging the election of “frivolous conduct.”

The court challenge cites irregularities including long lines, a shortage of voting machines in minority precincts and problems with computer equipment.

Bush defeated Sen. John Kerry by 119,000 votes, according to Blackwell’s official count; Ohio’s 20 electoral votes gave Bush the 270 he needed for victory.

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Attorney General Jim Petro, representing Blackwell, said the voters “are not trying to actually contest the presidential election but are merely using this litigation to cast public doubt on the voting system of the State of Ohio without a shred of evidence.”

On Dec. 21, officials learned lawyers for the voters planned to issue subpoenas to several high-ranking officials, including Blackwell, Bush and the president’s political adviser, Karl Rove, according to Petro.

The state Supreme Court “should halt their ability to subpoena any person until such time as they make a good faith showing for the reason to take any deposition,” Petro said in the court filing.