COLUMBUS - An attorney representing the Green and Libertarian parties urged Ohio's chief elections officer yesterday to allow a recount to be finished before the electoral college meets Dec. 13.
"Those people have not been chosen until the recount process has been completed," said John Bonifaz, founder and general counsel of the National Voting Rights Institute in Boston.
Mr. Bonifaz charged that Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, associate chairman of President Bush's re-election campaign in Ohio, has "actively engaged in thwarting the recount law" by delaying certification of the official statewide results until tomorrow.
The official results will show that Mr. Bush defeated Democrat John Kerry on Nov. 2 by about 119,000 votes to win the 20 electoral votes and another four-year term, according to an analysis of county board of elections results by The Associated Press. Kerry campaign attorneys have said they do not believe a recount will overturn the outcome, but support one to ensure that every vote is counted.
Ohio law requires candidates to file recount requests with the 88 county boards of election within five days after the secretary of state certifies the official results. David Cobb and Michael Badnarik, presidential candidates respectively of the Green and Libertarian parties, say they will do so, but they have failed in federal court to speed up the schedule.
Mr. Bonifaz said the Secretary of State's Office plans on Tuesday to send certificates to the presidential electors, who will meet at the Statehouse to vote on Dec. 13, the date set by the U.S. Constitution, said Carlo LoParo, spokesman for the secretary of state's office. Tuesday is when the secretary of state must inform the U.S. Senate of Ohio's electors, Mr. LoParo said.
"Mr. Blackwell is doing everything he can to push through a slate of electors based on an untested initial county of the vote. He must be stopped," Mr. Bonifaz told 500 people at a rally organized by a coalition of liberal activist groups. A recount is expected to take 5 to 11 days and probably won't be finished before Dec. 13, Mr. LoParo said.
"Two federal courts have informed Mr. Cobb and Mr. Badnarik that the Electoral College will meet on the 13th and they will not be harmed by the Electoral College because they have no chance of overcoming President Bush's lead. Collectively they received 0.26 percent of the overall statewide vote," he said.
The accusation that Mr. Blackwell has delayed certification is "absurd," Mr. LoParo said.
If a recount shows a Kerry win, a different set of electors would vote, Mr. Bonifaz said. "If that happens, the United States Congress will receive the votes of two competing sets of electors from the state of Ohio when it convenes on Jan. 6 to formally receive the Electoral College vote," he said.
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