Judge dismisses next-to-last Ohio lawsuit stemming from 2004 presidential race
COLUMBUS, Ohio – A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit over Ohio’s recount of the 2004 presidential election, leaving only one court challenge remaining from the state’s role in the re-election of President Bush.U.S. District Judge James Carr in Toledo threw out the suit filed by a voting rights group on behalf of the Green Party and Libertarian candidates. Tuesday’s dismissal, barring an appeal, leaves active only a suit filed by the League of Women Voters of Ohio.The judge’s ruling came in a challenge by the National Voting Rights Institute to the recount that showed Bush beat Democratic challenger John Kerry by about 118,000 votes out of 5.5 million cast.The institute’s initial lawsuit sought to force the state to begin the recount before the vote was certified Dec. 6, 2004.The institute complained that the recount would not be finished until after the Electoral College vote made Bush’s election official Dec. 13 and thus violated federal law. The recount was completed Dec. 28.Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell sided against the institute, noting that state law mandated the recount could not begin before certification.States generally are exempt from election lawsuits unless a plaintiff can prove that a state’s policy could affect future races, which the institute said Blackwell’s interpretation could do.But the judge ruled that Blackwell’s interpretation applied only to the 2004 election and would have no bearing on future elections.A spokeswoman for Attorney General Jim Petro was he was pleased with the ruling.The institute said any decision to appeal would be up to David Cobb, the Green Party candidate, and the Libertarians’ Michael Badnarik.The League of Women Voters’ suit says a faulty elections system violated the equal protection and due process of some Ohio voters. Some voters waited in line for hours because there were too few voting machines in many precincts, the league contends.The state has said the suit, which does not challenge the 2004 results, is frivolous and should be dismissed.—On the Net:National Voting Rights Institute: http://www.nvri.orgLeague of Women Voters of Ohio: http://www.lwvohio.orgVail, Colorado
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