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In state where election door won?t shut, recount finding little change
Friday, December 17, 2004
By JOE MILICIA Associated Press Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) ? Vote totals did not change significantly as the state?s recount of the presidential election continued Thursday, but witnesses say there is more to the recount than just numbers.

Three to four witnesses sat at each of 20 tables as workers counted ballots by hand at the Cuyahoga County board of elections. Witnesses said they were pleased with the county?s handling of the recount.

Kurt Miller, a witness for Green Party candidate David Cobb, said elections officials showed witnesses whatever they wanted to see. Miller said the recount provides assurance that boards are accurately counting ballots.

?If you get to the polling place and punch the hole out of the card, these people at the board of elections can reliably count them up,? he said. ?It?s just comforting that at least this part works.?

But he said the state?s recount, which will likely continue into next week, will not correct other problems that prevented people from voting, such as long lines and voters not being guided to the proper precinct.

?The recount can show that the machines are working. I think it still leaves questions as to what happened on Election Day,? said Kerry-Edwards witness Stephen Milder, who traveled from Massachusetts for the recount. ?There are problems that a recount isn?t going to necessarily fix.?

Cuyahoga County Board of Elections director Michael Vu noted that there are irregularities in every election and the ones that occurred in the November election happened at the polls, not in the counting of votes.

?The irregularities from this election are not going to show in a recount,? Vu said.

The Green and Libertarian party presidential candidates paid for the recount, citing irregularities in the vote. The two raised the $113,600 required under state law for the effort.

Donald McTigue, a Columbus lawyer overseeing the Ohio recount for the Kerry campaign, said although the recount isn?t resulting in a significant change in the vote, there are additional votes being counted for the candidates ?therefore serving an important purpose to make every vote count.?

Mark Weaver, legal counsel for Ohio Republican Party, said the recount will provide the country with the minor benefit of showing the original count was accurate, but that largely it is a waste of money.

?A few extremist groups refuse to accept reality and are sticking taxpayers with the $1.5 million bill for their indulgence,? said Weaver, quoting Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell?s estimate on the cost of the recount.

?For the few sore losers out there, this has become their ultimate reality show ? the chance to be on television,? said Weaver, noting media coverage of the recount.

Kerry-Edwards witness Pat Blochowiak, who believes there are enough uncounted votes in Ohio for Kerry to win, said there are many more challenges that should be made and that the recount is only the beginning.

?If this isn?t enough, then there?s the lawsuit, there?s the uncounted provisional ballots, there?s the investigation of the absentee ballots,? she said.

The lawsuit Blochowiak referred to was at least temporarily stopped Thursday when Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Moyer threw out it out on a technicality. The challenge, which attorneys said they would refile, claimed fraud because of voting machine errors, double-counting of ballots and a shortage of voting machines in predominantly minority precincts.

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