Tens of thousands of ballots yet to be counted in area. What will happen to them?

Montgomery County Board of Elections staff sort provisional ballots on Tuesday night. Josh Sweigart/Staff
Montgomery County Board of Elections staff sort provisional ballots on Tuesday night. Josh Sweigart/Staff

More than 300,000 provisional and absentee ballots across Ohio — including 39,374 in area counties — remain outstanding and might be added to vote totals when the final count is certified Nov. 18.

This isn’t enough to sway the results of the presidential election in Ohio. President Donald Trump carried the state by more than 400,000 votes in the Election Day tally. But it could make a difference in races across the state decided by a thin margin.

In Montgomery County, 5,268 provisional ballots were cast on Election Day and 1,886 during early voting in Montgomery County. Another 296 voters cast ballots curbside on Election Day.

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Provisional ballot totals in Greene, Miami and Warren counties are 2,256, 1,239 and 2,546, respectively.

These ballots must be vetted before they can be counted after Nov. 16.

These numbers are similar to provisional ballot usage in 2016, when 154,965 provisional ballots were cast across the state, of which 85% were counted. In 2012, 208,084 provisional ballots were cast and 83% counted.

“The No. 1 reason (they are rejected) is that they were not registered to vote," said Aaron Ockerman, executive director of the Ohio Association of Election Officials. "But some of them are not counted because they were missing information on the envelope and never got it to the board of elections, typically some piece of identification.”

Montgomery County Board of Elections Deputy Director Steve Harsman said historically 10% to 13% of provisional ballots there are invalid.

Voters can be asked to vote provisional ballots for several reasons, including their names not appearing on the official poll list for their precinct.

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The number of provisional ballots cast this year is “very low for a presidential election,” Harsman said.

Another roughly 6,700 absentee ballots requested by Montgomery County voters but not yet received will be counted if they were postmarked by Nov. 2 and are received within 10 days. That number in Greene, Miami and Warren counties is 2,271, 942 and 2,159, respectively.

Harsman said historically only about 500 to 1,000 absentee ballots are received after Election Day in Montgomery County.

The state doesn’t keep historical data on how often ballots arrive after Election Day. But in 2016 there were 80,014 ballots sent to voters that were never returned, according to data from the Ohio Secretary of State. That included 3,317 in Montgomery County.

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