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Ohio electors urged to delay balloting until after recount

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- As it has done for 200 years, Ohio's delegation to the Electoral College is to meet today to cast ballots for president and vice president -- but this time, there are demands that the electors wait until after a recount.

The Electoral College's vote in the Ohio Senate chamber is expected to be accompanied by demonstrations outside the Capitol sponsored by groups who do not accept that President Bush won the key swing state by 119,000 votes, guaranteeing his victory over Democrat John F. Kerry.

A demonstration was held yesterday by about 100 people outside the Ohio State House to protest the delegation's vote.

Led by a coalition representing the Green and Libertarian parties, the dissidents are paying for recounts in each of Ohio's 88 counties that will begin this week. The recount is not expected to be completed until next week.

"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 vote be delayed until the recount is completed. "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 activists say there were disparities in vote totals for Democrats, too few voting machines in Democrat-leaning precincts, organized campaigns directing voters to the wrong polling place, and confusion over the counting of provisional ballots by voters whose names did not appear in the books at polling places.

At a Boston Common rally yesterday sponsored by the Coalition Against Election Fraud, more than 100 people gathered around the bandstand, festooned with an American flag, Kerry-Edwards campaign signs, and placards that read "Vote Fraud," "You Stole My Vote," and "Count Every Vote."

Speakers included Boston City Councilors Felix Arroyo and Chuck Turner; former Green Party gubernatorial candidate Jill Stein; and William Rivers Pitt, who along with former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, wrote "War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know."

"This is not so much a question of who won or lost; this is a question of whether we have a democracy," Stein said. "For a democracy, we need to count the vote. We need to take a lesson from the people of Ukraine, and we need to stand up and be counted and stand up for our imperiled democracy."

Steven Rosenberg of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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