COLUMBUS - Lawyers who have been documenting Election Day problems in Ohio say they'll challenge the results of the presidential election as soon as the vote is official.
The lawyers say documented cases of long lines, a shortage of machines and a pattern of problems in predominantly black neighborhoods are enough evidence to bring such a challenge.
``The objective is to get to the truth,'' said Cliff Arnebeck, a lawyer who said he'll represent voters who cast ballots Nov. 2. Arnebeck said the effort is bipartisan.
``What's critically important, whether it's President Bush or Sen. Kerry, whoever's been actually elected, is to know you won by an honest election,'' he said. ``So it's in the interest of both sides as American citizens to know the truth and to have this answered.''
Ohio Republican Party chairman Bob Bennett said it was a joke that the effort was being billed as bipartisan.
``This is nothing but an absurd attempt by a handful of radical front groups to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the Bush presidency. The election is over, the Democrats have conceded and the outcome will not change,'' Bennett said in a statement.
``This is an egregious waste of time and taxpayer money. It's time to move on.''
More than 200 people in Columbus voiced their complaints Nov. 13 about voting problems on Election Day, some accusing the state of voter suppression. Many were Kerry supporters.
A similar hearing was scheduled Friday in Cleveland.
The Columbus hearing was organized by Robert Fitrakis, a lawyer and political science professor at Columbus State Community College, who is also involved in filing the challenge.
``The sworn statements that we've received should give everyone cause to go forward in terms of this inquiry,'' Fitrakis said.
Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell will certify the election results by Dec. 6, spokesman Carlo LoParo said Friday.
A ruling in favor of the challenge could lead to a recount or even having the results set aside, although Arnebeck hinted that such an event was unlikely.
A statewide recount of the presidential vote is already inevitable because a pair of third-party candidates said they have collected enough money to pay for it.
Libertarian Michael Badnarik and the Green Party's David Cobb said Monday they raised more than $150,000 in four days, mostly in small contributions. Ohio law requires payment of $10 per precinct for a recount, or $113,600 statewide.