11/13/2004

Sorting and discarding of Kerry votes

The Free Press -- Independent News Media - Bob Fitrakis

And so the sorting and discarding of Kerry votes begins
November 10, 2004

Are the provisional ballots in Ohio being thrown out? A new rule for counting provisional ballots in Cuyahoga County, Ohio was implemented on Tuesday, November 9 at approximately 2:30 in the afternoon, according to election observer Victoria Lovegren.

The new ruling in Cuyahoga County mandates that provisional ballots in yellow packets must be “Rejected” if there is no “date of birth” on the packet. The Free Press obtained copies of the original “Provisional Verification Procedure” from Cuyahoga County which stated “Date of birth is not mandatory and should not reject a provisional ballot.” The original procedure required the voter’s name, address and a signature that matched the signature in the county’s database.

Lovegren described the clerks as “kind of disturbed” after the new ruling came down. She said that one of the clerks told her, “This is new. This just came down. They just changed it in the last thirty minutes.” According to Lovegren, 80 yellow-jacketed provisional ballots piled up in the hour and 45 minutes she observed. By Lovegren’s tally, three provisional ballots were rejected because the registered voters’ registration had been “cancelled.” The rest, she said, were being discarded because of no date of birth.

In 2000, an estimated 9% of Ohio’s provisional ballots were rejected and not counted, according to Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell. Many election observers are predicting the number will be much higher this year due to directives from Blackwell’s office.

An earlier analysis in the Free Press of the 155,428 unofficial provisional ballots recorded at the Secretary of State’s website found that a clear majority, 85,096, came from the 15 counties Kerry won. An additional 17,038 came from urban Hamilton County, home of Cincinnati, and Wood County, where Bush won with 53% and 53.5% respectively. Traditionally, Hamilton County’s provisional ballots are disproportionately cast in the African American majority wards of the central city and not in the affluent Republican-dominated suburbs. Thus, nearly two-thirds (65.7%), or 102,134, provisional ballots come from areas where the provisional ballots are likely to be pro-Kerry

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