Voters stand firm on Ohio election challenge

OHIO VOTE
People wait in line to vote after the polls had closed in Columbus on election day, Nov. 2, 2004. Laura Rauch / AP file
/ Source: The Associated Press

One voter didn’t see any signs of fraud on Election Day but was suspicious of the results. Another was surprised by long lines in her suburban city, where voting was always quick in the past.

Others were angered by having to wait hours to vote in black neighborhoods. Some left in frustration without casting their ballots.

In all, 37 voters in this swing state are challenging President Bush’s Nov. 2 victory over Democratic Sen. John Kerry. They want Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Moyer to set aside the election results.

Bush’s re-election campaign responded Monday with its own court filing, saying the challenge resembled “a poorly drafted script for a late night conspiracy-theory movie.”

The filing came the same day that the Rev. Jesse Jackson held a rally in Columbus to support the challenge and urge the U.S. Senate to debate Ohio’s results on Thursday when Congress is in joint session.

It is not known when the chief justice might rule. Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, however, said there is no reason to prolong the election.

“Jesse Jackson can complain, grand stand, whine, stamp his feet all he wants,” Blackwell spokesman Carlo LoParo said. “It’s not going to change the results of Ohio’s election or how voters cast their ballots on Nov. 2.”

Mark Lomax, a 25-year-old Columbus resident, stood in line 3½ hours on Election Day.

“In 2000, if Al Gore had just held on and fought to the bitter end, he would have been president,” said Lomax, who is black. “I kind of have the same feeling now — whether or not you like John Kerry, that’s not the issue. It’s just that your vote counts.”

Bob Fitrakis, one of the lawyers who filed the challenge, said if Moyer’s decision comes after Thursday’s official tally by Congress, it likely wouldn’t have any effect on the outcome of the presidential election. But any ruling favorable to the challengers — regardless of when — would bolster their efforts to improve voting law, he said.