Ohio Update: More than 90,000 Votes Discarded due to Punchcard Failure

Associated Press

Election critics protest at Statehouse

The Associated Press
12/4/2004, 3:55 p.m. ET

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Melissa Hedden, a key John Kerry supporter in her community, has been busy with charitable work since the election. So she decided to find out Saturday why so many people are questioning Kerry’s loss in the Ohio presidential election.

To read the House Judiciary Committee letter to Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, dated December 2, 2004, please click on this link: http://www.house.gov/judiciary_democrats/ohblackwellltr12204.pdf

Hedden, 48, of suburban Upper Arlington, was among the 400 people who gathered outside the Ohio Statehouse to demand an immediate recount of the results or at least look into Election Day irregularities around the state.

Hedden said she was one of the founders of the “UA for Kerry” movement in her predominantly Republican suburb. She’s convinced the 2 percentage-point victory President Bush will officially receive on Monday is inaccurate.

“There was no doubt in my mind that Kerry had enough votes. My fear was the votes would not be counted and that’s been borne out,” Hedden said.

The crowd braved winds over 15 mph and temperatures in the mid-40s to listen to speakers who claimed Ohio voters were the victims of a fraud that took votes from Kerry and gave them to Bush. Some compared it with the current election troubles in Eastern Europe.

“I would like to welcome you to the Ukraine,” said Susan Truitt of the Citizens Alliance for Secure Elections, speaking in the shadow of a statue of Ohio Republican William McKinley, the 25th U.S. president.

Cliff Arnebeck, a lawyer representing some of the election critics, said the fraud details would come out in an Ohio Supreme Court filing contesting the election, likely on Monday.

Critics say Ohio’s numbers are suspect because of disparities in the vote totals for different Democrats on the same ballot; the disqualification of more than 90,000 presidential votes on punch-card ballots because they could not be determined; the Election Night lock-down of Warren County’s board of elections because of an alleged terror threat; and a computer glitch on election night that recorded an extra 3,893 votes for Bush in one suburban Columbus precinct.

It’s the computer problem that worried Nathan Cobb, 28, a graduate student from Columbus. He said the technology would make it easy to manipulate votes.

“There seems to be a lot of evidence of something fishy,” Cobb said. “You have no idea what the heck goes on in there. It’s not that hard to program a computer.”

State and county election officials have said there were irregularities on Nov. 2, but no more than any other election. They adamantly have denied there is any evidence of widespread vote switching or other wrongdoing.

Ohio was the state that the election hung on, and Kerry would have won the presidency had he carried the state’s 20 electoral votes. He conceded the day after the election, saying there was not enough provisional and other ballots to swing the results his way.

Bush won Ohio by about 119,000 votes, according to an analysis of county board of elections results by The Associated Press.

A federal judge in Columbus on Friday ruled that the recount may proceed. But it probably won’t begin before Dec. 13, when Ohio’s 20 electoral votes are counted.

John Ciprian, 46, who made a 75-mile trip from Dayton for the rally, said he doubts a recount would change the result but that the allegations critics have made should be investigated.

“I’m just trying to educate myself about this,” Ciprian said.

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