November 02, 2004

No, This Is Not Over Just Yet.

Before trying to get a few hours sleep, some observations about where we are. In at least Ohio and in Iowa, and perhaps in some other states, the balloting is too close for a winner to be declared. With just a few percent of the vote to be counted in Ohio, Bush is in the lead by somewhere between 100,000 and 125,000 votes. (Iowa had some vote counting machine malfunctions, and other issues, which have led to a delay there in an exeedingly close race). But there are (according to various claims made on CNN) between 100,000 and 250,000 or more ballots to be counted in Ohio, including both provisional ballots and absentee ballots.

The chances that these provisional ballots can tip the balance is difficult to assess without more information about their total numbers as well as who cast these ballots. It may be, when we know more, that the margin would be simply too great for Kerry to make up.

Remember, HAVA guarantees a right to cast a provisional ballot and have it counted if the voter is eligible. Ohio has a process for counting these provisional ballots, but some of the procedures are open to question and, as the immediately prior post shows, open to litigation as well.

In the event that the results with provisional ballots (which the Ohio Sec. of State said on CNN won't be counted for 11 days) yield a much closer outcome, a recount is also possible. And, as I noted here, Ohio still has a number of punch card counties, making a recount messy. As that earlier post explains, Ohio uses a "two-corner" rule.

CNN is also reporting that Kerry legal teams will be going at least to Ohio and Iowa. Given the 11 day+ window for the counting of provisional ballots, and the speech by Sen. Edwards saying that the Democrats will fight to count every vote, I don't see how the election ends in fewer than 11+ days, unless the numbers from Ohio show that a provisional ballot count mathematically can't help Kerry.

UPDATE: Here is OSU's summary of recount procedures in Ohio.

Posted by Rick Hasen at November 2, 2004 11:55 PM