Well, things aren't looking good for Ralph in Ohio...and with only 34 days to go, I think he may be S.O.L....<br><br>Nader ruled off Ohio's ballot<br>Blackwell: Signatures collected by fraud<br><br>By Laura A. Bischoff<br>Dayton Daily News<br><br>COLUMBUS | Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader will not be on the Ohio ballot on Election Day because thousands of his petition signatures were collected through fraudulent tactics, Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell ruled Tuesday.<br><br>Although Nader's team submitted 14,473 petition signatures, only 3,708 signatures were valid short of the required 5,000 minimum, Blackwell found.<br><br>The Nader campaign promised to appeal the decision.<br><br>"We're going to be suing the secretary of state in the Supreme Court of Ohio," Nader campaign spokesman Kevin Zeese said Tuesday night. "We expect to be on the ballot in Ohio. We file suit tomorrow."<br><br>During the initial petition review, local county boards of elections ruled 8,000 of the 14,473 signatures invalid. It looked as if Nader had 6,464 valid signatures enough to meet the 5,000 minimum.<br><br>But then lawyers for 13 Ohio Democrats filed a protest Aug. 30, claiming hundreds of the remaining 6,464 signatures were collected through fraud. Lawyers convinced Blackwell's hearing examiner, Gretchen A. Quinn, that a number of petition circulators were not Ohio residents and some who signed as the circulators didn't collect the signatures.<br><br>One woman, who signed<br><br>saying she circulated the petitions, testified that she didn't know who Ralph Nader was.<br><br>"This is a victory for Ohio citizens. The ruling indicates that candidates cannot attempt to deceive state election officials in order to get on the ballot," Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Denny White said.<br><br>Blackwell spokesman Carlo LoParo said this is the first challenge and first finding of fraud to a presidential candidate's petitions in recent memory.<br><br>Zeese said the Nader campaign plans to challenge the decisions by local election officials to invalidate 8,000 signatures.<br><br>Nader and running mate Peter Miguel Camejo are on the ballot in 37 states, but are in litigation with seven of those states and launching legal challenges in seven more states, according to the Nader campaign Web site.<br><br>As a Green Party presidential candidate in 2000, Nader received 117,799 votes, or 3 percent, in Ohio. Democrat Al Gore garnered 46 percent, while President Bush received 50 percent of the vote.<br><br>Nationally, Nader captured 2.8 million votes, or 2.7 percent, and many political observers considered him the spoiler who cost Gore the White House.<br><br>In cases where ballots have been printed, Nader's name will be covered and any absentee ballot votes for Nader will not be counted, LoParo said.<br><br>Blackwell's office plans to refer the evidence of fraud to county prosecutors, he said.<br><br>The Nader campaign hired JSM Inc., a Florida-based signature gathering company, without checking references, signing a contract or investigating allegations of misconduct in another state, Quinn reported to Blackwell.<br><br>" . . . the Nader campaign was careless with respect to its association with JSM's signature-gathering effort in Ohio. However, there is no evidence that the Nader campaign directed or condoned the collection of signatures in any manner that violated Ohio law," Quinn wrote in her report.<br><br>