The Ohio House race between Republican incumbent J. Todd Smith and Democrat Dan Foley is still undecided more than a week after Election Day.
The final outcome of the 43rd District seat — and other squeakers — is still in the balance with thousands of provisional and overseas military and civilian mail-in ballots left to be opened.
After election night, Smith had a 462 vote lead over Foley. The district represents all of Preble County and a portion of west-central Montgomery County that may flip the election-night results. Foley is currently a Montgomery County commissioner.
“We’re just waiting for Montgomery County to see what numbers they pull,” said Buffy Allison, Preble County’s deputy elections director. “We’re not the major county, that would be Montgomery.”
About 200 outstanding absentee and provisional ballots remain in Preble County. But a vast majority of ballots left to consider — some 6,700 — are from Montgomery County, officials said.
But the thousands of ballots still tucked in envelopes could be of great — or little — consequence depending on where they originated, said Jan Kelly, Montgomery County’s elections director.
“We don’t know yet,” she said. “That’s the big question everybody has.”
The 43rd Ohio House District represents 57 of Montgomery County’s 360 precincts. Foley took 63 percent of the 28,092 votes cast in those 57 precincts to Smith’s 37 percent. In Preble County’s 42 precincts, Smith took nearly 75 percent of the vote, but fewer people — 15,458 — cast ballots there.
Kelly said absentee voting typically mirrors election day results. But not always.
“It’s usually proportional to the unofficial final,” she said. “However, you never know. There’s been many surprises in elections.”
Because of the close margin, Foley never conceded the election. A clear winner will be known Nov. 27 when the state’s boards of election are required to certify the election results.
“At this point it’s kind of a waiting game,” Foley said. “I’m really going to trust the process and wait until a week from Tuesday to fully understand what’s happened.”
Other close races
In the election for Montgomery County Clerk of Courts, Russ Joseph, the Democratic incumbent, similarly has not conceded to Mike Foley, a Republican who is up 1,600 votes before the counting of provisional ballots. He is no relation to Dan Foley.
“It’s probably a long shot but we just want to be sure that everybody is counted and people’s votes are heard,” Joseph said.
As opposed to outstanding mail-in absentee ballots, it’s harder to bank on provisional ballots for catching up, Kelly said. Many get deemed invalid and are uncountable, usually because the person is not registered to vote, she said.
“That’s the reason they are voting a paper ballot, because something’s missing. Something is missing to make them eligible to vote a regular ballot.”
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.