Sunday, December 05, 2004

The Columbus Dispatch Weighs in on the Ohio Recount

Benjamin Marrison, editor of the Columbus Dispatch, weighs in with thoughts on the upcoming Ohio recount in this article. Access to the full article requires registration and a subscription, but here are the main points.

Watching him [Kerry] concede the election to President Bush before he had to do so — while Ohio and the White House were technically up for grabs — I was impressed by his character.

The Massachusetts senator embodied the American spirit by attempting to reduce the rancor that divided our country leading up to the election.

Yet today, more than a month later, some of his supporters are still fighting, still campaigning.

Folks, it’s time to stop spending so much time debating the existence of a Republican conspiracy to deprive Democrats of the White House. It’s not there.

Marrison addresses the allegation that voting machines were purposely shorted in Democratic areas of Columbus.

For those who suggest (and there are many) that the allocation of voting machines unfairly crippled Franklin County Democrats, it’s simply not true. It’s clear that the Elections Board didn’t prepare well enough for the crush of voters it predicted, but it shorted voters in heavily Republican areas as well as in those that are heavily Democratic.

A Democratic supervisor at the county board recommended where to put the machines, and it’s unlikely that a Democrat would seek to disfranchise voters in areas that tend to vote for Democrats.

We examined voter turnout and found that the growth in new registrants nearly mirrored the percentage increase in voter turnout. That doesn’t mean everyone who left the polls without voting eventually returned, but it suggests that most did. I was one of them.
He goes on to suggest that focusing on voter improvements is what is needed, not a recount.

The best thing Democrats have going for them is that citizens appear ready to embrace improvements to the voting system. The people elected to run this state would have to be brain dead not to understand that they must do something.

The system needs changes to ease restrictions on absentee voting, reduce reliance on punchcard machines and guarantee that November’s lines won’t reappear.

Finally, he concludes by pointing out that in the last statewide recount in 1990, the recounted totals varied from the original totals by a grand total of 146 votes.

Our voting system [compared to Florida in 2000] has better safeguards, and the margin of victory is too great to merit the $1.5 million expense of a statewide recount.

Bush won Ohio by about 119,000 votes. The last time a statewide recount was conducted, in 1990, the office of attorney general was at stake. More than 3.3 million votes had been cast, and when the recount was done, only 146 votes changed.

If the Democrats who say ‘‘This isn’t about winning and losing" really mean it, they should skip the recount and push for reforms to our voting system.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer is supposed to be working on a fairly lengthy article on the various allegations that reaches the same conclusion.