Election 2004 News
November 03, 2004
Story About Ohio Situation In the LA Times

Ohio Takes Election-Night Spotlight

By Henry Weinstein and Elizabeth Shogren for the Los Angeles Times.

If it is necessary to count the provisional votes and the margin narrows, that could precipitate a recount. Under Ohio law, if the candidates are separated by one-quarter of a percentage point or less, there automatically would be a recount.

In Columbus, Daryll Judge, 44, a satellite technician, and his wife Michelle got in line at New Salem Baptist Church to vote at 5:30 p.m. It was raining steadily. By 7 p.m., they finally let the people wait inside the church. It wasn't until 9:50 p.m., more than four hours later, that he finally voted...

As the clock struck midnight in Gambier, Ohio, Lauren Gray, 18, waited in line to vote at a precinct near Kenyon College, where she is a sophomore. An electronic voting machine broke down earlier Tuesday, creating long, slow-moving lines of hopeful citizens waiting hours to cast their ballot.

"When it's coming down to having Ohio be the deciding state, everyone at the college and in the town knows we could be the next Florida," Gray said.

After a day of nerves wearing thin from mechanical delays, hurried legal challenges and the adrenaline fatigue that comes from dashed hopes, Ohio found itself in the unwanted spotlight. As the count of the presidential vote moved into this morning's early hours, Ohio emerged as the key big state to decide who becomes president.

Despite several projections that President Bush had defeated John Kerry in Ohio, the challenger's campaign insisted the count was too close to concede. In some areas, the voting was still under way.

"The vote count in Ohio has not been completed," campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill said in a statement. "There are more than 250,000 remaining votes to be counted. We believe when they are, John Kerry will win Ohio."

Mark Weaver, the chief Republican attorney in Ohio, said he was pleased that it appeared that Bush had prevailed in the Buckeye State. However, he quickly added that it appeared that the president's margin of victory would be less than the number of provisional ballots that have been cast, which would mean that the result would not be finalized for at least 10 days.

Both sides agreed it would take a while for Ohio to straighten out the vote.

According to Cincinnati attorney Phyllis Bossin, the southwestern Ohio legal coordinator for Kerry, there are still thousands of votes to be counted in Cuyahoga County, the state's largest county, where Al Gore trounced Bush in 2000. She said some polls had just closed in Columbus. Perhaps most significant, Bossin said, "The whole provisional ballot thing is a nightmare."

Cincinnati attorney Daniel J. Hoffheimer, the chief lawyer for the Kerry campaign in Ohio, said at 1:45 a.m. Wednesday that "this is the situation we all feared" - where the margin was the less than the number of provisional ballots, creating the possibility of further litigation.

Joe Rugola, the Ohio AFL-CIO's political chairman, said the outcome in Ohio could become clear in a couple hours or not for weeks.

"If Kerry's margin in Cuyahoga County is in line with historic margins, we could end up with a difference (between the candidates) that could be smaller than the number or provisional ballots outstanding."

The provisional ballots would then become a "supercharged" legal issue because there was so much legal wrangling over who could cast a provisional ballot and where they could cast it leading up to the election.

Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell said on CNN that if the margin of victory in Ohio is less than the number of provisional ballots, "everyone should take a deep breath and relax" because those provisional ballots won't be counted for at least 10 days under Ohio law.

Here is the full text of the article in case the link goes bad:


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