December 14, 2004

Some Counties Will Not Comply with Kerry Requests for Recount Procedures

Some Counties Won't Comply with Kerry Requests for Recount Procedures:

Akron Beacon Journal:

Posted on Mon, Dec. 13, 2004

Ohio counties dealing differently with Kerry recount requests

Associated Press

CLEVELAND - Ohio elections boards on Monday revealed various plans for handling new recount requests by Democrat John Kerry's presidential campaign that range from visually inspecting some ballots to getting a neutral group involved.

Over the weekend, Kerry asked the county elections officials to allow his witnesses to visually inspect the 92,000 ballots cast in Ohio in which no vote for president was recorded.

The request was one of 11 items that Kerry asked for as part of the recount that Ohio's 88 county boards of elections will begin this week.

When contacted Monday by The Associated Press, many boards officials said they hadn't heard about the weekend request by Donald McTigue, the lawyer handling the recount for the Kerry campaign.

A few elections officials said they would cooperate, while some officials said there was just no way they could comply with some demands.

Two minor presidential candidates who received 0.30 percent of the votes in last month's election requested the recount, claiming that the election was full of irregularities that need to be addressed.

President Bush, a Republican, beat Kerry by about 119,000 votes in Ohio on Election Day. Ohio's 20 electoral votes, which will be cast on Monday, put Bush over the top in the race.

Kerry's campaign supports the recount but says it won't change the election outcome. Bush's campaign has criticized the recount effort, saying it won't change anything.

Geauga County elections director Arch Kimbrew said six election workers will begin a hand count of ballots Thursday.

The recounts work this way: once 3 percent of the ballots are hand counted, the rest will be put through counting machines as long as the initial check turned up no problems.

Kimbrew said counting scanners will be programmed to stop for every ballot without a presidential vote, which the board will inspect. Kerry witnesses also will be able to look at those ballots.

Chris Heizer, director of the Montgomery County board, said Kerry observers will be permitted to view the hand-counting of 3 percent of the ballots to visually inspect the ones in which no vote was recorded for president. He said if the observers want to visually inspect all of the ballots, they will have to make an appointment and come back later.

Vinton County Board of Elections officials said they will start their recount at noon on Friday and hopefully finish that day, unless problems develop. The results would not likely be available until the following Monday, director Nell Griffith said.

Griffith said she had not received the Kerry campaign's request to inspect the ballots that lack a presidential vote. She said she would have to discuss such a request with the board members to determine how to proceed.

Griffith expressed frustration with the continuing requests for examination of the Nov. 2 election results.

"This thing is really a big pain. We're a poor county, and we don't have the money to pay for this. It's not fair," Griffith said.

Carlo LoParo, spokesman for Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, said each election board will handle the Kerry requests as it sees best, as long as it's within the guidelines set by state law.

McTigue did not immediately return a telephone message Monday.

Other requests include the use of independent experts to check the programming and calibration of the election equipment.

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