Requests for recount in Ohio honored

COLUMBUS, Ohio — With support from John Kerry’s campaign, two third-party candidates for president officially asked yesterday for a recount in Ohio, the state that put President Bush over the top in November.

The requests, mailed to all 88 counties, were expected to arrive by today.

Generally, county election boards must agree to a recount, as long as the parties bringing the challenge pay for it. And the Green and Libertarian parties collected enough donations to cover the required $113,600, or $10 per precinct.

David Cobb, Green Party presidential candidate, said the election was full of irregularities, including uncounted provisional ballots.

“There is a possibility that George W. Bush did not win Ohio. If that is the case, it would be a crime against democracy for George Bush to be sworn into office,” he said.

Cobb got 186 votes in Ohio. Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik received 14,695, or 0.26 percent of the overall total.

The request came a day after Ohio officially certified Bush as the winner of this battleground state by 118,775 votes. The president’s unofficial election-night margin of 136,000 votes shrank slightly after provisional and absentee ballots were counted and errors corrected.

Bush won the presidency by taking Ohio’s 20 electoral votes. Kerry conceded the morning after the election when presented with the state’s results.

The Kerry campaign has said it supports the recount — not because it believes the outcome will change, but because it wants to see a full and accurate accounting.

Recount advocates have cited numerous Election Day problems, from long lines, a shortage of voting machines in minority neighborhoods and suspicious vote totals for candidates in scattered precincts.

The Bush campaign has criticized the recount effort, saying it will not change anything. And some county officials have complained about the real cost, which Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell said is probably about $1.5 million.

The recount is “an exercise in futility and a ridiculous waste of county tax money,” said Larry Long, executive director of the Ohio Association of County Commissioners. “Neither candidate has any chance of winning, so what’s the point?”

The recount will probably not begin until next week because of a five-day waiting period to allow candidates time to arrange witnesses to the counting. Cobb, Badnarik and the Kerry camp gave permission for the recount to start before the five-day period. The Bush campaign did not waive the waiting period.

State law requires 3 percent of ballots to be counted by hand in each county, and then additional ballots to be counted if the initial check turns up problems.