December 17, 2004

December 17th: Ohio Recount Update

Hello Recount Supporters!
I apologize for not sending an update earlier. Between the 18-20 hour days and my AOL account acting up, I just have not been able to post to this list. Hopefully, you have been visiting our website at for updates from our County Coordinators and Green Recount Observers.

As you might have read, there is widespread confusion among BoE's about the definition of "random" when referring to the "random 3%" hand recount required by law. Many officials seem to believe that choosing which precincts to hand recount based on the number of voters is 'random.' Cuyahoga limited the selection of 'random' precincts to those that had 550 votes and over, which effectively eliminated approximately 90% of precincts from consideration.

One county put the names/numbers of all precincts in a bowl and pulled out precincts to recount -- that's random.

Observers have faced a range of attitudes, from pleasantness and willingness to answer questions to outright obstruction and hostility. Some are being threatened with expulsion if they talk to the counting teams [note: so far, I do not think anyone has been expelled] creating a very tense and negative experience for those volunteers who want to exercise their right under law to observe the process.

These volunteers deserve our thanks and gratitude for stepping up.

Ballot security is a big issue.We're discovering that ballots are being stored in unsealed boxes in locked broom closets, or in shelves in a locked lunchroom, open to all employees who lunch there every day. There are deeply disturbing reports coming out of Greene County, about unlocked offices and intimidation techniques including: phone calls and slashed tires [reported to the local police].


Vote totals are changing, with extra votes for Kerry and Bush being found (not huge amounts) but a new vote total doesn't trigger a full hand recount. Only a discrepancy between the 3% hand recount and computer count can trigger a full hand recount.

In Montgomery County, the hand recount of 3% found an additional 8 votes for Kerry. Because the hand and computer counts matched, though, the remaining 97% of the ballots were run thru the computer. An additional 12 votes for Kerry were found.

3% hand = extra 8
97% computer = extra 12

It seems obvious that a full hand recount would have discovered more than just 12 new votes for Kerry.

Day Four of the Ohio Recount brought more tales of ballot prepping (to allow the hand count and the machine count to match) and more tales of not-so-random selection of voting precincts. Observers are taking copious notes, and we are posting initial reports by Coordinators and Observers as they come in. Take a moment to read about Fairfield County, which will reconvene on Saturday to do a hand recount of the 3% with a new machine (the same situation Monroe County faced on Tuesday). Nine more counties will begin their counts on Friday, with Defiance County scheduled for Saturday and Trumbull County for Monday. For now, all reports can be found at

[note: I am not a lawyer so my explanation may be lacking]

On December 7, 2004, our attorneys sent a letter via facsimile and via overnight mail, on our behalf, to Secretary Blackwell outlining a series of issues relating to his Outline of Recount Procedures as posted on his official website. We stated in the letter that "resolution of these issues is necessary in order to ensure that the recount is conducted uniformly in the various county boards of election and in accordance with state and federal law."

As reports from conversations with the different Boards of Elections and our County Coordinators began to come in last week, we grew concerned about the varying standards throughout the State of Ohio as to how the recount in each of the counties would be conducted. Those varying standards raised serious equal protection and due process concerns. We attempted to go back to Federal Court again on Friday, December 10th before the recount began. The judge denied our Motion for Injunctive Relief citing, as before, the lack of 'irreparable harm' that we would encounter — the third time our efforts to seek a timely and meaningful recount was denied because David Cobb and Michael Badnarik, the Green and Libertarian presidential candidates, respectively, were unlikely to get any electoral college votes.

The Attorney General had until end of business day on December 16th to respond, which he has now done. Basically, the Secretary of State and the Brief of Amici Curiae, filed by the County Commissioners Association of Ohio and Ohio's Association of Election Officials, asked the Court to deny our motion. Notice this phrase in their papers: "....However, these Plaintiffs are doing something far worse. Through this litigation, they are asking this Court to replace the Ohio Secretary of State."

[note: files will be uploaded later today]

Franklin County Board of Elections

At long last, the Franklin County Board of Elections held a hearing on December 16 to receive testimony from voters about their experiences on Election Day. Amy Kaplan, our Franklin County Recount Coordinator, challenged the Board for not taking advantage of the recount process to restore her faith in the integrity of the system. She went through a long list of requests that she and the Cobb campaign had made in order to have a meaningful recount, especially regarding the DRE machines. All such requests were denied.

Another speaker asked where the Board had been during the four hearings the voters had organized the week of November 13 through 21. Many speakers had acted as observers during the recount as Cobb witnesses. Hearing their stories of four, eight, and even ten hour lines in the rain reminded us once again why we had to challenge this unfair voting process.

The Cobb-LaMarche legal team is continuing to weigh its options after a New Mexico court reaffirmed a decision by New Mexico's Democratic Governor Bill Richardson and two colleagues on the New Mexico State Canvassing Board to allow a recount of the state's presidential ballots, but only if David Cobb and other recount advocates paid $1.4 million by yesterday to cover recount costs. We did not pay the $1.4 million, and updates to this story will be posted here later today.

"There's tremendous grassroots support for the recount and for verifying the accuracy of our voting system. We have 800 volunteers who are ready to jump in and monitor the recount process," said Rick Lass, the New Mexico recount coordinator for the Cobb-LaMarche campaign.

The New York Times, Washington Post, and other mainstream newspapers of record are carrying articles on aspects of the Ohio recount and voting "irregularities." The story about the Triad voting machine technician "replacing the machine's battery" before the recount began, which David Cobb broke to the media at the Judiciary Committee hearing held in Ohio on December 13, has resulted in quotes from Rep. Conyers, a Triad representative, and the naming of the Hocking County elections official who witnessed the technician's actions.

See to view David Cobb's testimony before Conyers.

We'll continue to post reports as they come in. I'll try to write another update tomorrow, after observing the recount in Fairfield County, with more analysis about the patterns of problems and behaviors.

Without your support and encouragement, this recount would not be happening.

Lynne Serpe
Ohio Recount Manager
Cobb/LaMarche '04
Vote Green for Peace, Democracy, Ecology and Justice

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