ASHLAND — Two races in Ashland County will remain undetermined until the board of elections includes provisional and absentee ballots into the final tally.
The Ashland County Board of Elections will meet Nov. 15 to investigate all 300 provisional ballots and decide whether to include them in the final tally, which is scheduled to occur Nov. 20.
There are also 151 absentee ballots that have not been counted yet, said Shannon Johnson, deputy director of the Ashland County Board of Elections.
A provisional ballot, according to the Ohio Secretary of State, is a regular ballot that a voter fills out while his/her eligibility is determined.
“The content of a provisional ballot is no different from a regular ballot, but it is cast ‘provisionally’ until election officials can verify the voter’s eligibility to vote in the particular precinct at that election,” reads the secretary of state’s website.
This matters for two races in Ashland County.
In the village of Perrysville, two candidates for mayor each received 84 votes — Steve Goines and Bob Zakutni.
In the village of Mifflin, mayoral candidate Vickie Shultz received 25 votes. Her opponent, Fred Craig, received 24. The race, Johnson said, was too close to call on Tuesday.
Johnson said Wednesday there are at least two provisional ballots that were cast in each village.
So the outcome of those two races all depends on how many of those provisional ballots count toward the final tally, Johnson said.
An automatic recount in those races is also possible, Johnson said. Even if the provisional ballots go to one person in each race, state law requires a recount if the total vote difference is less than .05%.
If an automatic recount is triggered in these races, the recount would be completed within 14 days after Nov. 20, when the board is set to certify results.
If, even after counting provisionals, a tie remains — a coin toss could determine a winner.
In that case, “the (chairman of the board) breaks the tie by flipping a coin, drawing straws, picking a name from the hat or cutting cards. A winner is declared and a recount is ordered,” Johnson said.
Johnson forecasted a high turnout in Ashland County — even as high as presidential elections.
Final, unofficial results from the board of elections showed a 52.57% turnout across Ashland County. That means 18,132 people voted out of 34,488 registered voters.
“I was a little surprised,” she said, adding she expected a higher turnout. “But still, for an odd-numbered election year, the voters in Ashland County came out. They were passionate about the state issues.”
The state issues, did, in fact drive high turnouts across Ohio.
Final, unofficial results from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office reveal 3.8 million people cast ballots for or against state issues one and two. That’s out of 7,988,132 registered voters, meaning turnout across the state was around 47%.
Ashland County was not the exception.
There were 17,948 people who voted on State Issue 1 in Ashland County, with the majority of those votes against the measure protecting access to abortion.
State Issue 2, which legalized recreational cannabis for adults, drove 17,951 people to the polls in Ashland County. The majority of voters cast “no” ballots on the issue.
Turnout was so high in Ashland County that some polling locations began running low on pre-printed ballots, Johnson said.
Election workers delivered 22 ballots to Trinity Baptist Church in Orange Township. Workers then delivered 45 ballots to Bethel Baptist Church, which served as a polling location for voters in Troy, Ruggles and Clear Creek townships.
Johnson said running low on ballots is not unprecedented.
“We have equipment that can produce any ballot for any voter that walks in,” she said. “So no one was turned away for ballot shortages in Ashland County.”
Johnson reported having “just enough” poll workers this year. In October, the board of elections had a shortage of 10 workers.
She said there were some cancellations for Tuesday poll workers, but the staff had extra to fill the needs.
“We had 23 new people in the class (to train poll workers),” Johnson said. “So they did an excellent job recruiting this year. But we’re heading into a presidential election year. So we could always use more.”