As it has done for 200 years, Ohio's delegation to the Electoral College is to meet today to cast ballots for president and vice president but this time, there are demands...
COLUMBUS, Ohio As it has done for 200 years, Ohio’s delegation to the Electoral College is to meet today to cast ballots for president and vice president but this time, there are demands that the electors wait until after a recount.
The Electoral College’s vote in the Ohio Senate chamber is expected to be accompanied by demonstrations outside the Capitol sponsored by groups that don’t accept that President Bush won the key swing state by 119,000 votes, guaranteeing his victory over Democratic Sen. John Kerry.
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About 100 people gathered yesterday outside the Ohio Statehouse to protest the delegation’s vote.
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.
“John Kerry conceded so early in the process that it’s maddening,” said Kat L’Estrange of We Do Not Concede, an activist group born after the election that thinks Kerry was the real winner in Ohio and nationally.
L’Estrange, Susan Truitt of the Columbus-based Citizens Alliance for Secure Elections, and others demanded that the electoral vote be put off until the recount is completed.
“In Ohio, there has not been a final determination. Therefore, any meeting of the Electoral College in Ohio prior to a full recount would in fact be an illegitimate gathering,” said John Bonifaz of the National Voting Rights Institute.
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 books at polling places.
The Kerry campaign does not dispute that Bush won the election but supports the Ohio recount. Kerry issued a statement Wednesday saying reported voting problems should be investigated to ensure there are no doubts in future elections.
Meanwhile, a lawyer for Kerry said last night that the senator is asking elections officials to allow his witnesses to inspect the 92,000 Ohio ballots on which no vote for president was recorded.
The request is one of 11 the Kerry campaign made in a letter sent over the weekend to Ohio’s county election boards.
“We’re trying to increase the transparency of the election process,” said Donald McTigue, the lawyer handling the recount for the Kerry campaign.
Today’s Electoral College vote will follow the same script it has since 1804, when Ohio picked Thomas Jefferson, a Democratic Republican, over Federalist Charles Pinckney.
The electors will gather in the Senate chamber and cast votes for president, then vice president, on separate paper ballots. The ballots will be counted by representatives of Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell’s office and then handed to Blackwell.
He will send the tally to the president of the U.S. Senate, who will announce the national total Jan. 6.
Ohio’s electors are a mix of GOP officials and others who are being rewarded for party service.
“It’s a great honor to serve as a member of the Electoral College, and it’s a great honor to vote for President Bush,” said Alex Arshinkoff, chairman of the Summit County Republican Party.
Another elector, Karyle Mumper, chairwoman of the Marion County Republican Party, also feels honored but thinks the demonstrations outside will be a distraction.
“It’s a shame they do not believe in the honesty and the professional people working the polls,” Mumper said. “I just think they are sore losers, and money and time [for the recount] could be spent on other things.”
Associated Press reporter Mark Williams contributed to this report.