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Conyers wants probe of Ohio recount preparation

December 16, 2004


A Detroit congressman asked the FBI on Wednesday to investigate an Ohio election worker's concern that presidential election results could have been altered when a software company employee worked on machines before a ballot recount.

The company, TRIAD Governmental Systems Inc., provides vote-counting software used in 41 of Ohio's 88 counties.

Rep. John Conyers, the senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to the FBI office in Cincinnati and Hocking County Prosecutor Larry Beal asking them to immediately confiscate election machinery in the southwest Ohio county.

Conyers wants an FBI investigation because election tampering is a federal crime.

Separately, the Government Accountability Office, Congress' investigative arm, said it would study the 2004 election, and Conyers said Democrats on the Judiciary Committee plan to review each reported problem in Ohio.

Conyers said similar TRIAD visits have been reported in other Ohio counties.

Brett Rapp, president of Xenia, Ohio-based TRIAD, said it's standard procedure to prepare the machines for a recount so they only tally the presidential race. He said company representatives have worked on computers in every county that uses TRIAD software.

Mike Brooks, a spokesman for the FBI office in Cincinnati, said Conyers' request had not been received and there are no agency investigations of Ohio's election. Beal also had not received the letter but said he had spoken to Sherole Eaton, Hocking County's deputy director of elections, and no investigation was planned.

Recounts are under way across the state that put Republican George W. Bush over the top in the election last month. At least 35 of Ohio's 88 counties had completed their tallies or had started.

Officially, Bush beat John Kerry by 119,000 votes in the state, but two third-party candidates collected the required $113,600 for a recount that they claim will show serious irregularities. The Kerry campaign supports the recount, though it has acknowledged it will not change the outcome.

Statewide, about 92,000 ballots failed to record a vote for president, most of them on punch-card systems.

Under Ohio law, workers must hand-count 3 percent of ballots. If those results match the earlier certified results exactly, all other ballots can be recounted by machine. If not, all ballots must be recounted by hand.

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