11/15/2004

Cuyahoga board deflates vote suspicions BUT admits computer glitch

Cuyahoga board deflates vote suspicions BUT admits computer glitch

To a casual observer, Cuyahoga County seemed to have more votes than voters in some areas on Election Day - a 90,000-vote disparity being hyped in cyberspace under headlines such as "Stolen Election" and "Ohio Fraud."

the documents suggest that 13,939 ballots were cast in Beachwood, though only 9,943 voters are registered there.

But county officials say that's not how the data should be read. The "ballots cast" is not a reflection of the votes within a city's borders; the numbers also include votes in the congressional and legislative districts that overlap with the cities.

A disclaimer on the elections board's Web site warns viewers not to count up votes in a city based on the "ballots cast" column.

But that has not stopped an Internet- inspired chain-mail campaign that questions the validity of Ohio's presidential vote, where President Bush still holds an unofficial lead of 136,483 votes over Sen. John Kerry.

Cuyahoga officials said Tuesday they have received about 30 phone calls and a handful of e- mails from people curious about the discrepancy. Interest appeared to increase based on a chain of e-mails that sprouted from Texas, and a mention of the incongruous Cuyahoga County figures that aired on the MSNBC cable network Monday night.

"Is it a concern because we don't want it to get out of control? Yes," said Jane Platten, an administrator at the elections board.

Web surfers have discovered other problems in the Ohio results, most notably an error in one Franklin County precinct that added 3,893 extra votes for Bush.

Such mistakes should be corrected in the next few weeks, as the state's boards review and recount all of their ballots before arriving at a certified vote total. Included in those numbers will be the verified votes that are among the 155,000 provisional ballots cast in the state, and absentee ballots cast from overseas, which must arrive by Friday to be counted.

After the counties make their official count, the Secretary of State will then approve an official certified state total sometime around Dec. 3.

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