A statewide recount of the Ohio presidential vote will take place next month, according to the Green Party. Two third-party presidential candidates, David Cobb (Green) and Michael Badnarik (Libertarian), announced their intention to request a recount last week. Over $113,000 was raised in four days to pay the required fees.

A recount request must be filed five days after the secretary of state certifies the vote. The secretary’s spokesman put the certification date sometime around Dec. 6.

Voting rights organizations support the Ohio recount, but they don’t expect it to change Ohio from a “red” state to “blue” one. “It is not our expectation that a recount will change the outcome of the presidential election, nor is that the intent of this effort,” stated a coalition of “election protection” groups, including People for the American Way, Fannie Lou Hamer Project and Common Cause. “We believe it is imperative that, in a democracy, every citizen’s vote be counted.”

With the unofficial count, George Bush won Ohio by about 136,000 votes.

The Ohio Democratic Party, attorneys for the Ohio Kerry campaign, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich also committed to “count every vote.”

In a Nov. 10 open letter, Kucinich promised to keep a close watch on voter suppression and theft concerns. “Serious problems surfaced in this election that must be addressed,” Kucinich stated. “I am paying close attention to this important period of time between the initial results and the official vote tabulation and will not hesitate to take appropriate legal action where supported by facts.”

Among the serious problems reported in Ohio were:

* Glitches in electronic voting, especially the widely-reported problem in Gahanna, Ohio, just outside of Columbus, where over 4,000 votes were posted for George Bush although only 638 people voted in that poll.

* More than 92,000 “spoiled” ballots due to punch card ballot problems similar to the ones in Florida in 2000.

* Tremendous lines where voters waited for hours because of insufficient number of voting machines; these appeared to be concentrated in working class precincts, many of them predominantly African American and Latino.

* Dirty tricks and voter intimidation.

* Thousands of provisional ballots improperly disqualified.

Citizens groups are holding hearings in Columbus to take testimony from voters, poll watchers and election experts about the Ohio vote problems.

Further irregularities nationwide include Sarper County, Neb., where a computer glitch doubled the votes in half the precincts; Guilford County, N.C., where vote totals were so large that the computer threw votes away; Carteret County, N.C., where a machine discarded 4,532 ballots; and Boulder County, Colo., where an optical scanning system stretched or crushed thousands of paper ballots, rendering bar codes unreadable.

Election Day problems cry “system failure,” charged voting rights groups.

The Help America Vote Act, passed in 2002 to reduce vote problems that happened in Florida in 2000, introduced the paperless electronic touch-screen voting machine. But many, including researchers from Johns Hopkins who tested the machines, find the system unacceptable, lacking the minimum security and audit standards.

Six Democratic House Judiciary Committee members, John Conyers (Mich.), Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Robert Wexler (Fla.), Robert C. Scott (Va.), Melvin Watt (N.C.) and Rush Holt (N.J.), have written to the U.S. comptroller general asking for an investigation into voting irregularities.

Holt said the Government Accountability Office should “examine the scope and validity of complaints from voters” about malfunctioning electronic voting machines, failures to count absentee ballots, and attempts to prevent the monitoring of vote counts.

Nadler said he hopes “the information people provide will be helpful.” The House Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over the Voting Rights Act, the Help America Vote Act, and constitutional rights to free and fair democratic elections, he said.

The authors can be reached at pww@pww.org.

The authors can be reached at pww@pww.org.

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