The Recount Accounts

Research by Allison Bloch, Intern 

BREAKING NEWS: Get the latest on U.S. election recounts.

Improved processes and technology were supposed to prevent a rerun of the Florida 2000 election debacle.

Instead, in 2004, complaints have multiplied. Ohio, New Mexico, Nevada, Washington state and San Diego, Calif., are rife with accusations of irregularities, and the discoveries of lost and undercounted votes.

Protesters face an uphill battle to get recounts underway. The Electoral College has already met and voted for George W. Bush, and efforts in some states have been stymied by costs and legal wrangling.

It’s more than the presidential vote that’s in question: In San Diego, now called “Enron by the Sea” for its financial mismanagement, a surfer-activist is battling over 5,000 contested ballots that could tip the election.

In Washington state, the governorship hangs by 72 votes. Newly discovered or mistakenly rejected ballots in King County now number 723. If they get counted, the presumed Republican winner could be edged out.

The controversy there has spurred lawsuits, and a high-profile call for a new election.

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Ohio: protesters, investigations, voting rights

Nevada: recount stymied, lawsuit proceeds

New Mexico: Green Party seeks compromise

San Diego: 5,000 invalidated votes in question

Washington state: Uncounted ballots, calls for a new election

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Ongoing complaints of electoral “irregularities” in Ohio on Nov. 2 have led to investigations by prominent Democrats, protests and a lawsuit.

In one court filing a group of 40 plaintiffs said that “[w]hile the existence of anomalies could possibly be explained by human error or technical malfunctions, the fact that, in every case in Ohio known to the contesters, the error favored the Bush-Cheney ticket, strongly indicates manipulation or fraud.”

But even if the recount does uncover significant problems, would it make a difference?

“It may change a few votes here and there,” said Sandusky County Elections Director Barb Tuckerman, “but I don’t think that anyone thinks this will really change the results.”

Recount doubters, such as Keith Cunningham of the Ohio Association of Election Officials, said allegations of fraud by such figures as Jesse Jackson are “outrageous, preposterous and baseless.”

Nationally, Democratic leadership said the real issue is not whether there was any fraud, but rather ensuring voting rights are preserved.

Among the issues cited by Democrat spokeswoman Donna Brazile where “faulty voting equipment, long lines at the polls [and] untrained poll workers.”

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“Ohio’s electors officially back Bush; group sues”
The Cleveland Plain Dealer, December 14, 2004

“150 protestors allege voting irregularities”
The Capital Times, December 13, 2004

“House Democrats, Jesse Jackson investigate election irregularities”
Associated Press, December 8, 2004

“Some voters holding out hope for Kerry victory”
Los Angeles Times, December 13, 2004

“Democrats stress voting rights in radio address”
CNN, December 11, 2004

“Ohio recount resembles Florida in 2000”
Associated Press, December 15, 2004

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Green and Libertarian party candidates David Cobb and Michael Badnarik “reluctantly” dropped their calls for a recount in Nevada, citing costs. A lawyer for the two candidates said that Dean Heller, the Nevada Secretary of State, was being “obstructionist.”

Although Nevada’s electors gave their votes to Bush on Monday, Patricia Axelrod, a local Democrat, is suing Heller over documents that she said could prove Bush “stole this election.”

Among the issues she cites are 10,000 “undervotes” — ballots that didn’t register a vote for any candidate.

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Recount dropped in Nevada presidential election
Associated Press, December 3, 2004

“Bush to get Nevada’s votes today”
Associated Press, December 12, 2004

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In New Mexico, a judge upheld the state canvassing board’s decision that the Green and Libertarian parties must pay $1.4 million by December 16 to cover the costs for a recount. The decision essentially scuttled their efforts.

The state’s governor, Democrat Bill Richardson, heads the canvassing board.

The Green Party missed the payment deadline, and is now calling for a partial recount. Their candidate, David Cobb, said his concern is “extraordinary voting anomalies” in precincts that used computerized voting machines.

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“Green calls for vote compromise”
Albuquerque Journal, December 17, 2005

“Recount advocates look at limited review”
Associated Press, December 17, 2004

Analysis: New Mexico recount in doubt
United Press International, December 16, 2004

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Donna Frye, a surfer and write-in candidate for mayor of San Diego, is in electoral limbo after a judge denied her request to count 5,000 disqualified ballots that could tip the balance of the election in her favor.

Frye came to prominence fighting water pollution, and appeals to many voters as an alternative to a political establishment that has led the city to the brink bankruptcy, earning it the nickname “Enron by the sea.”

Her campaign may appeal the decision to count the disqualified ballots, which did not have an oval filled in next to her hand-written name.

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“Frye camp dealt setback; call to count disputed ballots denied”
San Diego Union-Tribune, December 17, 2004

“Write-in mayoral bid has fresh hope”
Christian Science Monitor, December 17, 2004

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Washington state’s closest governor’s race in history hangs by a margin of 72 votes right now.

Republicans are suing to block by heavily Democratic King County from counting 573 ballots that were accidentally rejected by election workers.

The state party’s chairman Chris Vance said the ballots are “very suspicious.”

An additional 150 ballots were discovered in a warehouse on Friday, bringing the number of potentially election-tipping votes to 723.

On Friday, a judge blocked the counting of those votes. Democrats plan an appeal.

“I get to vote, I did it right, and it gets to count,” said King County Councilman Larry Phillips, whose ballot was among the 573.

He may have the chance to vote again — Washington’s Republican former Secretary of State has called for a new vote, a move he says is to restore voter confidence.

Democrats say the move is more out of fear of losing the closely contested election.

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“Judge blocks count of newly discovered ballots in governor’s race”
Associated Press, December 17, 2004

“More uncounted ballots found in Wash.”
Associated Press, December 17, 2004

“New look at 573 ballots may close Gregoire gap”
Seattle Times, December 16, 2004

“Former Secretary of State pushes for new vote”
Seattle Times, December 17, 2004

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