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Monday, December 13, 2004; Page A11

In Ohio, Activists Push for Delay In Electoral Vote Until After Recount

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- As it has done for 200 years, Ohio's delegation to the electoral college is to meet Monday to vote for president and vice president -- but this time, there are demands that the electors wait until after a recount.

Demonstrators who do not accept that President Bush won the key state by more than 100,000 votes over Democrat John F. Kerry plan to protest outside the capitol during the vote in the state Senate chamber.

"John Kerry conceded so early in the process that it's maddening," said Kat L'Estrange of We Do Not Concede, an activist group born after the election that believes Kerry was the real winner in Ohio and nationally.

L'Estrange, Susan Truitt of the Columbus-based Citizens Alliance for Secure Elections, and others demanded that the electoral college vote be delayed until a statewide recount is completed, probably next week.

"In Ohio, there has not been a final determination. Therefore, any meeting of the electoral college in Ohio prior to a full recount would in fact be an illegitimate gathering," said John Bonifaz of the National Voting Rights Institute.

The protesters said there were disparities in vote totals for Democrats, too few voting machines in Democratic-leaning precincts, organized campaigns directing voters to the wrong polling places and confusion over the counting of provisional ballots by voters whose names were not in the books at polling places.

The Kerry campaign does not dispute that Bush won the election, but supports the Ohio recount. Kerry issued a statement saying reported voting problems should be investigated to ensure there are no doubts in future elections.

• TRENTON, N.J. -- New Jersey's heroin was found to be the purest in the nation for the second straight year, a distinction that has sparked concern in the medical and law enforcement communities. Federal Drug Enforcement Administration tests of heroin samples obtained from New Jersey streets showed 71.4 percent purity in 2002, nearly twice the national average. In the 2003 report, due out soon, New Jersey again will hold the top spot, DEA spokesman Rusty Payne told the Star-Ledger of Newark.

• HAYWARD, Wis. -- The fatal shootings of six white deer hunters by a Hmong man in northern Wisconsin last month have fueled racial animosity against the growing immigrant population, Hmong community leaders said. Hmong residents have reported receiving threatening letters and being taunted with ethnic slurs. Chai Soua Vang of St. Paul, Minn., faces six counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder for allegedly gunning down eight hunters after a trespassing dispute on some of the victims' land. Vang said the men fired on him first and used racial slurs; the two survivors said Vang shot them first.

-- From News Services

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