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Activists Keep Heat on Ohio Over Ballot Errors

From Associated Press

Nearly a month after Sen. John F. Kerry conceded Ohio to President Bush, complaints and challenges about balloting continue as activists, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, demand closer scrutiny to ensure the votes are being counted on the up and up.

Jackson has held rallies in Ohio in recent days to draw attention to the vote, and another critic plans to ask the state Supreme Court this week to decide the validity of the election.

Ohio essentially decided the outcome of the presidential race, with Kerry, the Democratic nominee, giving up after unofficial results showed the president with a 136,000-vote lead in the state.

Since then, there have been demands for a recount and complaints about uncounted punch-card votes, disqualified provisional ballots and a ballot-machine error that gave hundreds of extra votes to Bush.

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Jackson said too many questions had been raised to let the vote stand without closer examination.

“We can live with winning and losing. We cannot live with fraud and stealing,” Jackson said Sunday at Mount Hermon Baptist Church.

A lawyer for a political advocacy group plans to file a “contest of election” Wednesday. The request requires a single Supreme Court justice to either let the election stand, declare another winner or throw the whole thing out.

The loser can appeal to the full seven-member court, which has a 5-2 Republican majority.

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Jackson said he agreed with the court filing planned by lawyer Cliff Arnebeck, who has represented the Boston-based Alliance for Democracy in other cases.

“The integrity of our election process is on trial,” Jackson said Monday in Cincinnati.

Elections officials concede mistakes were made, but no more than in most elections.

“There are no signs of widespread irregularities,” said Carlo LoParo, a spokesman for Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell.

Blackwell, a Republican and co-chairman of the Bush campaign in the state, has until Monday to certify the vote.

The Green and Libertarian parties are raising money to pay for a recount that would be held once the results are certified.

Other critics have seized on an error in an electronic voting system that gave Bush 3,893 extra votes in a suburban Columbus precinct where only 638 people voted.

The extra votes are part of the current unofficial tally, but they will not be included in the official count that will be certified by the secretary of state.

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