Federal judge orders 2004 Ohio ballots preserved

Jon Craig

U.S. District Court Judge Algenon L. Marbley today issued an order directing all 88 county Boards of Elections in Ohio to keep all ballots and miscellaneous other election material from the 2004 election.

In response to a lawsuit filed Thursday by King Lincoln Bronzeville Neighborhood Association et. al. v. J. Kenneth Blackwell, and a subsequent petition by citizens and neighborhood groups, Marbley ordered the "preservation of certain evidence."

In his attached one-page decision, Marbley ordered all Boards of Election "to preserve all ballots from the Presidential election, on paper or in any other format, including electronic data, unless and until such time otherwise instructed by the court."

Preservation Order (pdf)

Under federal law, county boards can destroy voting records 22 months after the presidential election, or this past weekend. On Friday, Secretary of State Blackwell directed boards to voluntarily save the records, although officials in Hamilton and Clermont counties conceded they already discarded unused ballots from Nov. 2, 2004.

Columbus attorney Clifford Arnebeck and other complainants said an ongoing investigation has found a pattern of tampering, that punch-card ballots in at least six urban counties including Hamilton show a systematic pattern of multiple punches or so-called overvotes that disproportionately favored President Bush over Democratic Sen. John Kerry.