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The Ohio Recount Outrage

Recounts are for states like Washington where the gubernatorial race was virtual dead heat, not for a state where the recounters’ hero lost by some 117,000 votes.

By 12.12.04

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WASHINGTON -- There once was a time when the Rev. Jesse Jackson intervened in instances of genuine injustice. At that time there was racial discrimination on a variety of fronts. I have never been a fan but I have to concede that he once did some good. That was then and this is now. Today Jackson seems to be continually in search of a cause, and seldom finds one that requires his presence.

Jackson is in Ohio, where liberals have raised enough money to fund a recount in the Presidential race. It was Ohio which put President Bush over the top in the Electoral College. That the President carried the state by approximately 117,000 votes is something that the far left cannot accept. Therefore, they are now inventing all sorts of problems which supposedly occurred during the 2004 elections.

It doesn't hinder Jackson and his compatriots that the Secretary of State of Ohio is a black man, Ken Blackwell. Do they actually think that Blackwell wants to suppress the Black vote? Then again Blackwell is a Republican, and from the far-left vantage point all Republicans want to prevent Blacks from voting.

Jackson and company charge that there were long lines at polling places in black precincts. I've got news for that crowd. There were hours-long lines where I voted. All over the country, when I talked with folks on Election Day they reported the same thing. Immeasurable media stories reported the same phenomena.

Jackson also charges that there were malfunctioning voting machines. Blackwell said there were occasional voting machine problems but nothing significant.

Jackson further charges that there was misinformation spread by Republicans in black precincts. He did not clarify the exact nature of the misinformation. In the past Jackson has charged that blacks were told the wrong date of an election and that polling places were changed. There was absolutely no evidence to support claims such as these in this election.

SO WHY THE RECOUNT IN A STATE where it is a certainty the results will not be overturned? It would seem that Jackson and his friends in Congress, some members of the Black Caucus, want to try to bring the legitimacy of President Bush's come-from-behind victory into question.

Jackson and his comrades can't complain this year as they did in 2000 that Bush was selected (by the Supreme Court), not elected.

They can't complain, as they did in 2000, that Bush only won the Electoral College and not the popular vote. Bush won approximately three and a half million more votes than did Senator John Kerry.

They can't complain, as they did in 2000, that Bush got favorable media attention. This election the major media wasn't just biased against Bush, it had a clear agenda the defeat of the President of the United States.

Therefore, with nothing to complain about, with the Red States having made a clear statement to the Blue States, the Jackson crowd has to gin up problems so they can have a basis for questioning the outcome of the 2004 election.

Recounts very seldom change results. Indeed, most of the leftwing groups which have paid for the Ohio recount have conceded that they will not change the result. Even if they have the money, there is no real reason for this recount. It is just wasting the time of good people. The Jackson claim that Senator Kerry conceded too soon and thus took the media scrutiny away from Ohio is absurd.

Does Jackson think if Senator Kerry and his firebrand running mate, Senator John Edwards, had any hope of turning the result around in Ohio they would have walked away? Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe promised the media that Bush "is a goner." If McAuliffe thought there was any chance that the Ohio result could have been changed, he would have thrown his body in front of Kerry and Edwards to keep them from conceding.

Congressman John Conyers, a longtime hard-line leftist, held a hearing on the alleged abuses against the black community in Ohio. Ralph Neas, president of People for the American Way, claimed that Ken Blackwell should be prosecuted for committing fraud in the Ohio elections. Just what it was that Blackwell supposedly did was not clear.

MEANWHILE, IN THE WASHINGTON STATE Governor's race a hand recount of the entire State is underway. Republican Dino Rossi has been certified the winner by just 42 votes out of the 2.9 million cast. The first recount, which was done by recalculating all of the voting machines in the state, cut down Rossi's margin from 219 to 42 votes. The hand recount (Washington state has backup paper ballots to the machine calculation) is the last-resort the Democrat Party retains. The party is in court attempting to have many ballots with irregularities counted which were thrown out in the original tabulation.

At this point it isn't clear if the gubernatorial race will be decided by the January deadline. Washington state absolutely has grounds for a hand recount. Moreover, you can't blame the Democrats for wanting to get those disputed ballots counted. Were the shoe on the other foot Republicans would be doing the same thing. This is a race where the results may indeed change because of the recount. When millions of voters cast their ballots and the result is that close, whatever cost is required to find out who really won is absolutely justified. The officials of both parties who are active in that recount are not meddling; they are performing a public service.

If you compare the Washington state experience with that in Ohio, it is a study in contrasts.

In Ohio there is no chance to overturn the result. In Washington State there is a real possibility that the result will be overturned.

In Ohio the leftists who raised the money for the recount are first-class meddlers. In Washington State only both major parties are involved.

In Ohio the desired result of the organizers of the recount is to discredit the system. In Washington state the desired of the party officials involved in the recount is to strengthen the democratic process -- namely, to reassure citizens that every single vote counts.

There have been examples of recounts waged in order to steal the election from the rightful winner. The Wisconsin legislature's famous Olson-Elfers recount in 1960 rigged the election in favor of Republican Olson. Likewise, in the Democratic Congress' recount of the 8th District of Indiana in 1984 (the recount extended into 1985) Democrats stole the House seat from Republican Rick McIntyre, the rightful victor.

However, most recounts are honest. In most states recounts are required when the result separates the major candidates by less than one percent of the vote. Recounts when the vote separating the major candidates is more than 200 almost never change the results. But that is not always the case. Senator Slade Gorton (R-WA) was thought to have won his re-election bid in 2000 but the recount reversed the results and today Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) has his seat.

In short, ordinarily recounts are a regular process to insure that close elections are properly counted. That is why Ohio is such an outrage. That recount is only for the purpose of making trouble. There ought to be a law outlawing that kind of recount.

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About the Author

Paul M. Weyrich is chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.