Dan Foley and J. Todd Smith
Photo: Staff Writer
Photo: Staff Writer

Finishing the ‘waiting game’: A close local statehouse race should be decided this week

The nail biting should be over Tuesday.

But then again, a couple hundred provisional ballots in Preble County and thousands more in Montgomery County may result in another period of uncertainty in a close Ohio House 43rd District race if the late results trigger a recount.

MORE: Smith/Foley battle for Ohio’s 43rd district seat remains undecided

Elections boards in Ohio’s 88 counties are required to certify the results of the Nov. 6 election by the end of Tuesday, among them a tight race between Republican Rep. J. Todd Smith and Dan Foley, a Democrat.

Their race wasn’t decided neatly on election night, unlike a vast majority of contests.

Smith holds a 462-vote margin after 43,550 votes were counted Election Day, and his opponent never conceded.

“I think Commissioner Foley’s heart and mine are both the same in this regard: we serve at the will of the people,” Smith said. “We just have to wait and see what the final tally is.”

The district includes all or parts of Dayton, Trotwood, Jefferson Twp., Clayton, Brookville, Farmersville, Harrison Twp., Perry Twp. Jackson Twp. and all of Preble County.

Smith was sworn in as a state representative in July, filling the seat vacated by Republican Jeff Rezabek. Foley is a longtime Montgomery County Commissioner who decided to run for the Statehouse instead of seeking re-election to the county board.

MORE: J. Todd Smith takes office to fill vacant local state House seat

Preble County is expected to certify its election results today. But if the results flip, it will be due to the yet 4,696 uncounted provisional ballots in Montgomery County that the elections board will give approval this morning to open. About 2,000 other mail-in absentee ballots are also in play.

“At this point it’s kind of a waiting game,” Foley said earlier. “I’m hopeful. I can’t tell you what the outcome is going to be.”

Election workers will spend today reviewing the provisional ballots and later in the day into the evening count those that are valid, said Jan Kelly, Montgomery County Board of Elections director.

“Monday’s kind of a long day,” she said.

The result of the Foley-Smith race will remain a mystery until the elections board meets again the following morning, Kelly said.

“The board won’t even know until Tuesday,” she said. “The candidates won’t know. The parties won’t know. Nobody gets an inside scoop on that.”

The results should be released publicly after being recorded with the Secretary of State’s office sometime between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m., Kelly said.

“And then we’ll know whether we’ll have a recount,” she said.

ELECTION 2018: Midterm results

If the final margin is equal to or less than a half of a percent, state elections law requires a recount be scheduled.

While the odds are dramatically less that the election night results will shift, the parties are also watching how provisional ballots break in the Montgomery Count clerk of courts race. Russ Joseph, the Democratic incumbent, was down 1,600 votes to Mike Foley, a Republican who is no relation to Dan Foley.

Other Montgomery County races that resulted in thin margins on unofficial results included a Germantown income tax increase that passed by 36 votes, a Jackson Twp. road levy that passed also by 36 votes and a Riverside roads levy that failed by 127 votes.

“We’ll know everything I guess on Tuesday,” Smith said. “I’m in the same place I was on Election Day, and that is I will be totally satisfied with the vote of the people and I will be happy either way.”

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