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Ohio's Election Challenged by Recount and Lawsuit

Between the Lines Q&A
A weekly column featuring progressive viewpoints
on national and international issues
under-reported in mainstream media
for release Dec. 13, 2004

Ohio's Official Presidential Election Results Challenged by Recount and Lawsuit Filed in State Supreme Court

- Interview with Cliff Arnebeck, lawyer representing the Alliance for Democracy, conducted by Scott Harris

Listen in RealAudio:

After a series of citizen-initiated hearings, protests and independent investigations into voting irregularities in Ohio, Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell certified the results of Ohio's Nov. 2nd presidential election, declaring George W. Bush the winner over John Kerry by a margin of 119,000 votes. However, critics immediately launched two separate challenges against the official tally.

The Green and Libertarian parties jointly filed a request for a recount of the votes cast in all of Ohio's 88 counties, backed by $113,000 raised to pay required state fees. Cliff Arnebeck, an attorney representing the Alliance for Democracy and 25 Ohio voters, will or has filed a lawsuit with the Ohio Supreme Court contesting the validity of the state's election results based on documented cases of voter suppression, miscounts of thousands of votes and a pattern of shortages of voting machines in predominately African American precincts.

In addition, Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan convened a congressional hearing Dec. 8th to investigate voting irregularities in Ohio, supported by outgoing Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe, who called for a study of the problems experienced by voters there. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with attorney Cliff Arnebeck, who describes the evidence of voting irregularities which led him to file a lawsuit before Ohio's Supreme Court -- and the potential for overturning the results of the national election.

Cliff Arnebeck: Citizen groups here in Ohio have been raising questions about the irregularities that occurred in this election and there are two procedures under Ohio law for challenging, and after-election challenge. Both of them are actually supposed to commence after the certification of the election by the secretary of state. The Green Party candidate and Libertarian Party candidate will file a request for a recount, a recount on a statewide basis. Also, on behalf of 25 voters we will be filing an election contest. And this is more like a conventional litigation in a special statutory procedure before the Ohio Supreme Court. In that process, we will conduct discovery and seek to prove that the irregularities in this election, if corrected would produce a different result, and indeed, John Kerry was the person who Ohioans voted for.

Between The Lines: Cliff, if you could, just specify some of the outstanding irregularities in allegations of vote fraud or machine breakdown that have caused you to take this action with the lawsuit.

Cliff Arnebeck: There are many, many, many things that have come out in public hearings that we've had around the state. These are organized by citizens, but testimony given under oath and affidavits executed by citizens to describe the problems. There was an Election Protection group here funded, or sponsored ,by a number of public interest organization which literally created a record of some 10,000 incidents of violations of voter rights on Election Day here in Ohio. All of this is an important record, and we intend to honor that record by referring to this various evidence in the course of this case.

One of the most shocking things about what happened in Ohio is how blatant the attack was upon black citizens, black precincts and impairing their right to vote, either through shorting them on machines so that they were facing lines and waiting times that were quite unreasonable -- five, six, seven, eight hours and also targeting university students often voting for the first time. These were population groups that had been developed quite aggressively, in terms of developing voter interest, voter registration, and voter participation. Republicans knew that this was going to be a problem for them, and all this voter suppression activity would appear to be a response to try to deal with that.

However, as we examined, did various statistical analysis of the vote, the real manipulation (of this election) seems to have occurred in several southern Ohio counties where votes were simply moved from the Kerry column to the Bush column. That's what we were going to focus on because that's where the big payoff is, and if we can prove that by clear and convincing evidence there are enough votes in that manipulation to reverse the result of the election.

Between The Lines: Could you go into that in a little bit more detail? How were the votes moved from column to another in southern Ohio, as you just stated?

Cliff Arnebeck: I'm not a technical person in terms of the actual way that was done. But that will be the purpose of discovery -- to determine exactly how that was done. We find a pattern of statistical anomaly which we do not think can be explained in any other way than an illegal moving of votes. Of course, the real thing we need is to get in and look at the actual votes, which we can do both by the recount and by the contest.

Between The Lines: Cliff, where do you want this lawsuit to take you in terms of either investigating what happened, investigating the allegations of fraud or otherwise overturning the results of the winner?

Cliff Arnebeck: Because of the compressed timeframe and the fact that we must respect the date as of which the electoral votes will be counted in Congress, Jan. 6, I think it is, we have a very tight time schedule. So one of our initial requirements is to get the court to agree to accelerate the normal contest timeframe. The same problem exists with respect to the recount. A manual recount across the state, could extend beyond this deadline. So what we hope is that both political parties will say that it is imperative for our nation to have confidence in the honesty of this election, and if there's any question, that question should be resolved in an honest, forthright way. If wrongdoing has been done, it should be identified, it should be corrected and we should certify a correct result for the election. This is important for our ability to have confidence in our leadership in this nation, both domestically and in our foreign affairs.

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Scott Harris is executive producer of Between The Lines, which can be heard on more than 35 radio stations and in RealAudio and MP3 on our website at This interview excerpt was featured on the award-winning, syndicated weekly radio newsmagazine, Between The Lines for the week ending Dec. 17, 2004. This Between The Lines Q&A was compiled by Anna Manzo.and Scott Harris.



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