Kerry Witnesses Want to Inspect Ohio Ballots

Democrat John Kerry (search) is asking county elections officials to allow his witnesses to inspect the 92,000 ballots cast in Ohio (search) in which no vote for president was recorded, a Kerry lawyer said Sunday night.

The request is one of 11 the Kerry campaign made in a letter sent over the weekend to Ohio's 88 county boards of election, which will begin recounting presidential ballots this week.

"We're trying to increase the transparency of the election process," said Donald McTigue, the lawyer handling the recount for the Kerry campaign. But he added that several requests — such as using independent experts to check election equipment, "are trying to push the edge of envelope."

Two minor presidential candidates who received 0.30 percent of the votes in last month's election requested and paid for the recount, claiming that the election was full of irregularities that need to be addressed.

President Bush (search), a Republican, beat the Massachusetts senator by about 119,000 votes in Ohio on Election Day. Ohio's 20 electoral votes, which will be cast on Monday, put Bush over the top in the race.

Kerry's campaign supports the recount, while Bush's campaign has criticized it, but both sides agree it won't change the outcome of the election.

McTigue said the visual inspection is allowed under state law. The goal is to look for potential votes that were not registered by the tabulating equipment.

McTigue also asked that counties accept the help of a group called Votewatch to determine which precincts will be chosen for the part of the recount that will be conducted by hand. McTigue said using the group will ensure that the ballots are selected using a valid random sampling method.

The procedures require 3 percent of ballots to be counted by hand in each county. All the county's ballots would be counted by hand if the initial check turns up problems.

Carlo LoParo, spokesman for Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, said state law will guide counties on how to conduct the recount.

"I don't know if Mr. McTigue is in a position to dictate the terms of a recount," he said.