Thursday, August 9, 2018

Uncounted Provisional, Absentee Ballots Provide Opportunity for Democrat to Win Ohio Special Election After All

Yesterday I wrote an article on the special congressional district race in Ohio in which I said GOP candidate Troy Balderson "appears" to have narrowly edged out the Democrat Danny O'Connor in a heavily Republican district located near Columbus, Ohio.   On election night, Balderson's lead was over 1,700 votes, giving him a nearly 1% edge on his opponent.  If the margin is less than .5% then under Ohio law an automatic recount is triggered. The speculation was whether the uncounted
Franklin County Recorder Danny O'Connor
provisional and absentee ballots might be enough to kick the race into recount territory which Balderson would like to avoid.

It "appears" now that a recount may be the least of Balderson's fears.  First, Franklin County, home to Columbus, Ohio, discovered some uncounted ballots which, when counted, narrowed Balderson's election night lead of 1,754 to 1,564.   Then there remains 5,048 absentee ballots and 3,435 provisional ballots to count.  The latter ballots are from people who do not appear on the voter registration rolls, but who are willing to sign an affidavit saying they are eligible to vote.  If just 59% of those 8,481 ballots break for the Democrat - which is quite possible given the enthusiasm gap favoring the Democrats in the district - O'Connor wins the election by 77 votes.

While I am not sure how many provisional ballots are typically cast in Ohio congressional races, the figure of 3,435 seems extraordinarily high.  What you are likely to see - if the winner ultimately "appears" to be O'Connor after counting these additional votes - are Republican attorneys challenging the provisional ballots that put the Democrat over the top.

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