President Bush’s re-election campaign asked the chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court on Monday to throw out a challenge of the election in this swing state, saying the case resembles “a poorly drafted script for a late night conspiracy-theory movie.”
The court filing was made as the Rev. Jesse Jackson held a rally before hundreds of people in Columbus to support the challenge and urge the U.S. Senate to debate Ohio’s results on Thursday when Congress is in joint session for the official tally of the electoral votes.
Thirty-seven Ohio voters who filed the challenge are asking Chief Justice Thomas Moyer to set aside the election results. Some of the voters are suspicious of Bush’s victory over Sen. John Kerry, while others say hours-long waits in heavily black neighborhoods caused voters to leave in frustration without casting a ballot.
“In 2000, if Al Gore had just held on and fought to the bitter end, he would have been president,” said Mark Lomax, a black Columbus musician challenging the vote. “I kind of have the same feeling now – whether or not you like John Kerry, that’s not the issue. It’s just that your vote counts.”
Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell said there’s no reason to prolong the election.
“Jesse Jackson can complain, grandstand, whine, stamp his feet all he wants,” said Blackwell spokesman Carlo LoParo. “It’s not going to change the results of Ohio’s election or how voters cast their ballots on Nov. 2.”
The Bush campaign echoed those sentiments in the filing, saying the challenge falls “far short of a legitimate election contest.”
It is not known when the chief justice might rule on the challenge.
Bob Fitrakis, one of the lawyers who filed the challenge, said that if Moyer’s decision comes after the tally by Congress, it likely wouldn’t have any effect on the outcome of the presidential election. But any ruling favorable to the challengers – regardless of when – would bolster their efforts to improve voting law, he said.
On the Net:
Ohio Supreme Court: http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/