Thursday, December 16, 2004

Conyers "prepared" to contest Ohio Electoral Vote

December 15, 2004 | 11:07 p.m. ET

Conyers "prepared" to contest Ohio Electoral Vote
Keith Olbermann

NEW YORK - The ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee told us tonight on Countdown that he and others in Congress are considering formally challenging the slate of electors who cast Ohio’s votes, when those votes are opened and counted before a joint session of Congress on January 6th.

“We’re prepared to do that,” Conyers said. “And we understand the law as well as you.” After the on-air interview ended, the Michigan representative added that he and his colleagues had not yet decided whether or not to take the extraordinary constitutional step, and he had not sought the support of a Senator who would have to co-sign the challenge.

The constitution provides the challenge process for the eventuality that a given state’s popular vote is determined to have been compromised after that state has certified the vote, and its members of the Electoral College have cast their ballots for a presidential candidate. Such a challenge needs to be in written form, signed by one member of the Senate, and one member of the House. Upon its presentation, the joint vote-counting session would be adjourned, and the Senate and House separately vote, by simple majority, whether to accept the challenge, or let that state’s electoral votes stand as cast.

Conyers also rebuffed criticism that his “voting forums” in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio, had included formal participation only by Democratic congressmen and politicians. “The fact that Republicans didn’t join us isn’t our problem, it’s their fault.” Republican Congressman Bob Ney of Ohio last week announced plans to conduct an investigation into the 2004 vote under his auspices as Chairman of the House Administration Committee.

Conyers said he had not yet received a reply to his request to the Cincinnati field office of the FBI and the office of the Hocking County, Ohio, Prosecutor, to begin an investigation into the allegations that a vote-tabulating machine there was manipulated there last Friday, contrary to the statewide instructions of Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell that no ballots or vote-counting equipment be inspected except in the presence of bi-partisan observers of that state’s recount.

He said he “didn’t know” if the explanation offered by the president of Triad, the manufacturer of the tabulator, that his employee merely conducted maintenance on the machine, was valid. But he did note that the source of the allegations, Hocking County Deputy Director of Elections Sherole Eaton, has “given a sworn affidavit. The president of the company hasn’t.”