Sat, Dec 04, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Kerry joins recount lawsuit

OHIO ELECTION The senator's campaign has added its name to a suit filed by the Green and Libertarian party candidates to make sure all 88 counties are included

AP , COLUMBUS, OHIO

Senator John Kerry's campaign has joined a lawsuit by third-party presidential candidates seeking a recount in Ohio. A lawyer for the campaign said on Thursday the campaign does not question the Democrat's loss but wants any counting to take place statewide.

Kerry's campaign this week joined the suit filed by Green and Libertarian party candidates seeking a recount of the vote in Delaware County. A judge in that county issued a restraining order blocking that request, but the order expired on Thursday. A hearing was set in federal court in Columbus for yesterday on the recount request.

"The Kerry-Edwards campaign felt it had to intervene," said Daniel Hoffheimer, a Cincinnati lawyer who represents the campaign in Ohio. "We did not want a recount to go forward if it only was 87 [of Ohio's 88] counties."

The two minor parties also have asked for a statewide recount, but a judge ruled that cannot begin until Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell certifies the vote, likely on Monday. The parties say they have raised the US$113,600 fee the state requires to conduct the recount.

The Kerry campaign isn't disputing the outcome of President George W. Bush's Nov. 2 victory in Ohio -- a 136,000-vote margin, based on unofficial results -- but wants to make sure any recount is "done accurately and completely," Hoffheimer said.

Hoffheimer said he knew of no other challenge by the campaign to the national election results. Bush won the national popular vote by about 3 percentage points, but Ohio's 20 electoral votes would have been enough to turn the race for Kerry.

Meanwhile, a lawyer repre-senting a group alleging fraud in the Ohio presidential election put off the filing of a challenge to the results. Cliff Arnebeck, who alleges that votes intended for Kerry were shifted to Bush, said his legal team needed more time to collect and analyze evidence. He said the filing could take place as late as Monday.

In another development, Michigan Representative John Conyers Jr, a Democrat, sent a letter to Blackwell asking for his assistance in a House Judiciary Committee Democratic staff investigation of "election irregularities." That probe would be in addition to one sought by the Congressional Budget Office.

Complaints received by congressional Democrats include disparities in vote totals for Democrats on the same ballot; too few voting machines in urban, Democrat-leaning precincts and organized campaigns directing voters to the wrong polling place.

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