[JURIST] Several voting rights groups filed a federal lawsuit in the Southern District of Ohio [official website] Thursday demanding that Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell [official website] preserve the paper ballots from the 2004 presidential election [JURIST archive], just two days before federal law allows states to destroy the ballots. The voting rights groups, including the Ohio Voter Rights Alliance for Democracy, argue that over 153,000 votes in Ohio were not counted in the presidential election because of flawed punch card ballots that mistakenly punched two names on the ballot, and also claim that new evidence indicates the punch card ballots were tampered with. Blackwell has not indicated whether he will instruct county Boards of Election to preserve the ballots, though several counties have said they will voluntarily preserve the voting records in light of the lawsuit.
New York researcher Richard Hayes Phillips [report] discovered the alleged election fraud by photographing several Ohio ballots, in which several ballots cast in favor of Massachusetts Senator John Kerry also marked other independent presidential candidates on the ballot, including candidates not eligible for the election like Ralph Nader. President Bush won the state by just 118,000 votes. Phillips believes that the flawed ballots were systematically tampered with throughout the state, citing a pattern of extra punches in every fifth election precinct. The Cincinnati Enquirer has more.