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Ohio presidential vote challenged

The Ohio delegation to the Electoral College cast its votes for President Bush on Monday, hours after dissident groups challenged the state's presidential election.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The Ohio delegation to the Electoral College cast its votes for President Bush on Monday, hours after dissident groups asked the state Supreme Court to review the outcome of the state’s presidential race.

As members of the Electoral College met across the nation to affirm the results of last month’s election, the 20 GOP electors in Ohio voted unanimously for Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

“The vast majority of people understand this election is over,” said Gov. Bob Taft, who was at the electors’ voting session in the state Senate chamber.

The challengers who went to the Supreme Court question whether Bush won the key swing state by 119,000 votes, guaranteeing his victory over Democrat John Kerry.

The court did not act on their request before the electors cast their ballots.

'High-tech vote stealing'
The Rev. Jesse Jackson and attorney Cliff Arnebeck of the Massachusetts-based Alliance for Democracy accused President Bush’s campaign of “high-tech vote stealing.”

Jackson said the challengers noticed Bush generally received more votes in counties that use optical-scan voting machines and questioned whether the machines were calibrated to record votes for Bush.

The dissidents claim there were disparities in vote totals for Democrats, too few voting machines in Democrat-leaning precincts, organized campaigns directing voters to the wrong polling place and confusion over the counting of provisional ballots by voters whose names did not appear in the records at polling places.

If the court decides to hear the challenge, it can declare a new winner or throw out the results.

“While the existence of anomalies could possibly be explained by human error or technical malfunctions, the fact that, in every case in Ohio known to the contestors, the error favored the Bush-Cheney ticket, strongly indicates manipulation or fraud,” the challengers said in a court filing.

Electoral votes cast
While members of the Ohio delegation to the Electoral College voted in the state Senate chamber, about 10 protesters walked a sidewalk nearby. State police said the group was denied a permit to demonstrate on Statehouse grounds.

Congressional Democrats sent a letter to the governor on Monday, asking him to delay the electoral vote or at least consider the results unofficial until the disputes are resolved.

“The vote is required to move forward by law, and it will more forward,” Taft spokesman Orest Holubec said. “The vote has been certified by the secretary of state, and all of the valid provisionals have been counted.”

'Ridiculous assertions'
Carlo LoParo, spokesman for Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, said that for the challengers’ accusations to be true, officials of both parties would have had to conspire to throw the election.

“That’s simply a ridiculous assertion,” he said.

Led by a coalition representing the Green and Libertarian parties, the dissidents are paying for recounts in each of Ohio’s 88 counties that will begin this week. The recounts are not expected to be complete until next week.

Kerry issued a statement last week saying reports of voting problems should be investigated to ensure there are no doubts in future elections. His campaign does not dispute that Bush won the election, but supports the recounts.