The election was 17 days ago, but some local races were too close to call and candidates will only learn today whether the official results will trigger an automatic recount.
This morning, the Montgomery County Board of Elections will certify the official results of the Nov. 3 general election, at which time it will become clear what races and issues meet the state requirements for an automatic recount.
If a recount is necessary, it would be scheduled within 10 business days.
There are more than 2,720 valid provisional ballots, as well as hundreds of late-arriving absentee and military ballots, that need to be counted. The number of outstanding ballots exceeds the margins of victory in some races.
Election officials said the contests most likely to head to a recount are for the Dayton City Commission, the Dayton school board, Clay Twp. trustee, Perry Twp. trustee, Miami Twp. fiscal officer and a Dayton municipal judge seat.
“There’s certainly enough (votes) going through this process that could push any number of races into the automatic recount,” said Gregory Gantt, a member of the Board of Elections.
According to a directive from the Ohio Secretary of State, automatic recounts should occur when the gap between the candidates for a disputed seat is less than or equal to 0.5 percent of the total votes cast for the position.
None of the Nov. 3 races in Montgomery County met this threshold based on the unofficial results.
But the uncounted provisional ballots, as well as hundreds of absentee and military ballots, could shrink the margins separating candidates.
There were 3,449 provisional votes cast in Montgomery County on Nov. 3, and election officials determined 2,728 were valid (79.1 percent).
Provisional ballots are provided at precincts when poll workers who cannot verify voters’ identities or cannot find their names on the list of registered voters.
If a voter’s information can be verified, the provisional ballots are counted after the election.
Of the 721 provisional ballots deemed invalid, 506 were cast by people who were not registered to vote and about 156 were cast in the wrong precinct.
“The majority of those that were not valid were not registered anywhere in the state of Ohio,” said Jan Kelly, director of the Board of Elections.
The unresolved races, which are still waiting on the final tallies, include the Dayton city commission contest, in which Chris Shaw led Darryl Fairfield by only 169 votes, according to the unofficial election results. The unofficial results had Mia Spells holding a 265-vote lead over Colette Moorman for the latter’s Dayton Municipal Judge seat.
John McManus clung to a 128-vote lead over Nancy Nerny for the third available seat on the Dayton school board.
Dale Winner was winning the Clay Twp. seat by 42 votes; Dale Seim was in the lead by 20 votes in Perry Twp.; and Aaron Newell had a lead of 55 votes for the Miami Twp. fiscal officer position.
If the margin of votes separating candidates in any of the races falls within the 0.5 percent measure, the Board of Elections will schedule a recount for within 10 business days, Kelly said.
The board will notify the impacted candidates by mail. Candidates will randomly draw the names of precincts until he or she has selected enough to represent at least 5 percent of all votes cast in the race.
The board will then recount the votes in those precincts by hand and machine.
In addition to approving certifying the provisional database, the Board of Elections on Thursday also reviewed and approved remaking dozens of ballots that were damaged, contained marginal marks and had other issues.
The board approved four ballots that were signed by the poll worker instead of the voter. Board members also approved remaking some ballots that a poll worker mistakenly issued on sample ballot forms.
The board rejected two ballots cast by voters who visited two precincts, citing concerns that the people may have voted twice.
It was notable that the share of provisional ballots that were invalid in this election was significantly higher than usual.
Election officials say that suggests greater participation by first-time voters. Issue 3, the unsuccessful measure that asked Ohioans to legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana, likely drew some nontraditional voters to the polls.
“Our traditional percentage is closer to 90 percent for the validity rate, but I think this election brought out some voters who normally do not vote,” said Steve Harsman, deputy director of the Board of Elections.
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