Ohio Voting Problems Confirmed, But Bush Still Would Have Won

    More than a quarter of voters, and more than half of black voters, experienced problems at Ohio polling places during the 2004 presidential vote, a Democratic Party report said on Wednesday.

    But the problems were not enough to have changed the outcome in the state that put President Bush over the top in his battle for the White House with Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, it concluded.

    The report cited long lines that discouraged voting, poorly trained election officials and difficulties with registration status, polling locations and absentee ballots.

    Nearly one quarter of Ohio voters felt their experience in 2004 had left them less confident about the reliability of elections in the state, according to the analysis.

    “The data clearly indicates that the system failed far too many Ohio voters,” said Donna Brazile, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee’s Voting Rights Institute and the project’s leader.

    Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman called the report “pure political fiction.”

    Ohio, which the Republican president won by about 126,000 votes out of 5.4 million votes cast, has been the focus of numerous allegations about voting problems and charges by some Democrats of voter fraud.

    The study said it found no evidence to support claims of voter fraud to shift votes from Kerry to Bush, saying the pattern of voting for Kerry was similar to the pattern of voting for the 2002 Democratic candidate for governor.

    Democrats said the analysis by election experts was not designed to question the results in Ohio, but to determine the extent of the problem and possible solutions.

    The report presented to Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean proposed 23 modifications in election practices, including adoption of clear standards for voter registration, creation of statewide voter lists and elimination of “touch screen” voting machines.