(Note: You would not know that the Columbus Dispatch is a very conservative paper from this article. I think the reporters did an excellent job of reporting, not slanting, the story. There's no URL because Jon Craig did not include it when he sent it to me.)

Saturday, November 27, 2004 |


by Jon Craig and Robert Vitale


The Rev. Jesse Jackson will call for an investigation of election irregularities in Ohio during a rally Sunday in Columbus, officials said yesterday.

Meanwhile, a national civil-rights organization filed a lawsuit in Cleveland seeking to count nearly 8,100 provisional ballots that were rejected Monday by the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

The 3:30 p.m. rally featuring Jackson is planned at Mount Hermon Baptist Church, 2283 Sunbury Rd.

Jackson, a former Democratic presidential candidate and founder of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, called for Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell to recuse himself from the vote counting.

Jackson thinks blacks were disenfranchished by a shortage of voting machines in Franklin and other counties and doesn't trust Blackwell, who was associate Ohio chairman of President Bush's campaign, to remain neutral.

Carlo LoParo, a spokesman for Blackwell, said Ohio's election results cannot be certified by Dec. 6 if Blackwell recuses himself.

A lawsuit contesting the election is expected to be filed next week in the Ohio Supreme Court by Citizens Alliance for Secure Elections (CASE) and the Alliance for Democracy.

Jackson aims to draw attention to a formal recount requested in Ohio by third-party presidential candidates and the more than 155,000 provisional ballots still being counted. Bush leads Sen. John Kerry by an unofficial 136,000 votes in Ohio.

Jackson asked why more voting machines were not provided in inner-city precincts and whether fraud could have occurred in counties that used electronic machines: Franklin, Knox, Mahoning, Pickaway, Ross and Lake.

Earlier this week, the Government Accountability Office announced a probe of voting problems in Ohio and elsewhere.

Yesterday's lawsuit by the People for the American Way Foundation demands that the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections hand check 8,099 rejected provisional ballots against original voter-registration cards.

"It's hard to believe that thousands upon thousands of people in Cuyahoga County were trying to vote without being registered,'' said Elliot M. Mincberg, legal director for the national civil-rights foundation.

The lawsuit also seeks to count provisional ballots that were cast in the wrong precinct in cases where voters were not directed to the correct precinct by poll workers.

A federal appeals court ruled in late October that a provisional ballot cast outside a voter's home precinct isn't valid. But at several public hearings this month, voters and challengers testified that election supervisors told them their vote would count even if cast in an adjoining precinct.

In Franklin County, controversy continues over a shortage of voting machines and a distribution plan critics say led to longer waits causing potential voters to leave in predominantly black, Democratic precincts of Columbus.

Activists and lawyers who plan to challenge Ohio's election results contend a subjective formula shifted machines from city to suburban precincts.

"I'm convinced that was intentional,'' said Clifford O. Arnebeck, a Columbus lawyer representing the Alliance for Democracy. "That was not an accident.''

Franklin County Board of Elections Director Matthew Damschroder, a Republican, said distribution was determined by "a little bit of art versus math,'' based on registered voters, active voters and past turnout in each of the county's 788 precincts.

Board of Elections Chairman William A. Anthony Jr. said he's offended by accusations from "a band of conspiracy theorists.''

Anthony, chairman of the Franklin County Democratic Party, said long lines weren't caused by the allocation of machines -- a process controlled by a Democratic supervisor, he added -- but by higher turnout, the overall lack of voting machines and a ballot that included more than 100 choices for some voters.

He said board members discussed renting punch-card machines to supplement the county's 2,886 electronic voting booths, but they decided against the idea upon advice from Blackwell. LoParo said Blackwell would not have given such advice. "I doubt that was the case,'' he said yesterday.

A second type of machine would have been confusing, Anthony said, and the controversial punch cards likely would have brought objections from those asked to use them.

Anthony said he is personally offended by the allegations.

"I am a black man. Why would I sit there and disenfranchise voters in my own community?'' he said. "I feel like they're accusing me of suppressing the black vote. I've fought my whole life for people's right to vote."

Information from the Associated Press was included in this story.


Informant: Diana Davies


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