November 19, 2004
VIA PACSn..1:ILE AND U.S. MAIL
John C. Bonifaz
National Voting Rights Institute
27 School Street, Suite 500
Boston, Massachusetts 02108
Dear Mr. Bonifaz,
Thank you for your letter of November 17,2004. Since your letter's assertion that "Ohio
law makes no reference to a recount demand flied in a presidential election" reflects a certain
lack of familiarity with Ohio's election certification process, it may be helpful to review the
A$ you know, we do not vote directly for the candidates: for president and vice-president.
Rather, pursuant to R.C. 3505.10, votes cast next to the n~es of the c~didates for president and
vice..president are counted as votes for each of the candidates for presidential elector whose
names have been certified to the Secretary of State by fue respective candidates for president and
vice-president. Since each candidate for presidential elector is a "candidacy for election [that]
was submitted to electors throughout 1he entire state1~, RC, 3S15,02~s recount procedure applies
directly to persons seeking a recount regarding the votes cast in Ohio in the presidential race.
Thus, under R.C. 3515.02. any application for a. recount in Ohio's presidential race "shall be
filed within five days after the day upon which the secretary of state declares the results of such
The Secretary of State's canvassing of the results from the various counties and his
declaration of the results is the initial "count". Plainly, tl1er~ can be no recount until there has
been an initial count. One cannot "immediately initiate" a recount, until the initial count is
completed. The Secretary of State will declare the results as soon as he is able to do so.
However, before the Secretary of State can lawfully declare the results of the presidential
election, Ohio law requires each county board of elections to (1) canvass the results (2) sign and
post a declaration of the results, (3) certify abstracts of the results and (4) send the certified
abstracts to the Secretary of State.
Under R.C. 3505.32, each of Ohio's 88 boards of elections must begin to canvass the
election returns no earlier than November 13) 2004, and no later than November 17,2004. The
canvassing is to continue daily until it is completed. When each board of elections has
completed the canvass of the election returns from the precincts in its county, the board must
meet, determine and declare the results. Pmsuant to R.C. 3505.33, "[s]uch declaration shall be in
writing and shall be signed by at least a majority of the members of the board".
of results shall be "posted for a period of at least five days". After this statutory five day period
of posting the results, "tlle board shall promptly certify abstracts of the results". R.C. 3505.33
requires, inter aliQ, that the boards certify upon a specified fonn "[a]n abstract of the votes cast
for the office of president and vice..president of the United States". After each board SO certifies,
"[o]ne copy of each of these fonns shall promptly be sent to the secretary of state".
The Secretary of State has requested each of Ohio's 88 counties to provide to him the
certified abstracts by no later than December l~ 2004. This deadline is significantly shorter than
t11e usual deadlines in non-presidential years. Once the Secretary of State has received abstracts
from al188 counties~ R.C. 3505.35 requires the Secretary of State to canvass the abstracts and to
"determine and declare the results of all elections in which electors throughout the entire state
votedt~. R.C. 3505.35 requires the Secretary of State to fix the time for canvassing the abstracts
within ten days after all 88 counties have provided the abstracts to him. R.C. 350535 also
requires the Secretary of State to give advance notice of such meeting to "the govemor~ auditor
of state~ attorney general, and the chainnan of the state central committee of each political
The Secretary of State does not intend to wait ten days from the receipt of all 88 certified
abstract$ before derennining and declaring the results of the statewide races. To the contrary, the
Secretary of State intends to declare the statewide results as quickly as it is feasible for him to
do, consistent wit11 his duties to comply with federal and state law. If it proves to be feasible to
determine and declare these results even before December 6, 2004, the Secretary of State will
endeavor to do this, provided that the accuracy and integrity of the process is not sacrificed.
In short, the timing and procedures to conduct the official "count" are governed by statute
and are being followed with such promptness as Ohio law allows, and, indeed, with even greater
promptness than is legally mandated. I hope this letter answers the questions that you have
Assistant Secretary of State