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Jackson says Kerry conceded too soon

Contending that Ohio's 2004 election results were more troubling than Florida's four years ago, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said yesterday that Democratic presidential candidate Senator John F. Kerry called it quits too soon.

''Kerry conceded much too quickly, before the facts were in," Jackson said in a conference call with reporters to discuss an ongoing challenge to Ohio's election results.

''When he pulled the plug, the national media left as well," Jackson said of Kerry's concession on Nov. 3, the day after the election.

Since then, a Jackson-led group contends to have uncovered a wide range of voting irregularities in the Buckeye State, including tabulations that contradicted early exit polls pointing to a Kerry victory, voting machine errors, absentee ballot counting errors, and inaccurate directions given to voters trying to get to polling places.

The concerns are detailed in a 41-page petition contesting the election before the Ohio Supreme Court. Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition plans a ''Pro Democracy -- Count Every Vote Rally" on Jan. 3, across the street from the Ohio state Capitol in Columbus.

Presidential candidates of the Green and Libertarian parties funded a statewide recount of the Ohio vote. The recount gave an additional 346 votes to Bush and 494 more votes to Kerry. Earlier this month, Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell certified Bush as the winner of the state, with 2.86 million votes, or about 51 percent, compared with Kerry's 2.74 million votes, or about 49 percent.

Daniel Tokaji, a voting systems specialist, told the Associated Press that the Jackson-led election challenge raised significant concerns but did not offer proof that Kerry actually won the state.

''These are very strong arguments for revamping Ohio's election system," said Tokaji, an assistant professor of law at Ohio State University.

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