The Ashland County Board of Elections met the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 15 to validate or invalidate provisional ballots cast during the general election cycle of 2023. Credit: Dillon Carr

ASHLAND — The Ashland County Board of Elections on Wednesday rejected 64 of 300 provisional ballots cast this election cycle. 

The board heard from election officials Amanda Jones and Shannon Johnson on all 300 provisionals that were inspected since Nov. 7. 

The board’s largest batch of rejected provisionals — 40 — were because the board of elections office could not find the voters registered anywhere in Ohio.

Another batch of 18 were rejected because the voters did not provide identification at the polling location. State law requires voters to produce valid IDs. 

If this happens, Jones explained, voters are given until Nov. 13 to provide a valid ID at the board of elections office. This issue happened to several voters in Ashland County, and 15 people came through the office to cure the ID issue. 

But there were 18 who did not.

“I don’t think we’ve ever invalidated this many for no ID,” said Johnson, the office’s deputy director.

The board rejected another four provisionals because there were instances where the voter had already cast a ballot. Jones said those examples could have been where poll workers made mistakes.

“There doesn’t appear to be malice,” Jones said. 

Another two provisionals were rejected because the ballots had conflicting information on both sides. In these cases, voters listed out-of-county addresses.

The early Wednesday meeting occurred according to state law, which requires boards of elections to determine whether the ballots are valid and entitled to be counted on the final tally. 

The meeting meant 236 out of 300 provisional ballots cast in Ashland County will count toward the finally tally, which will be certified on Nov. 20. 

The board of elections office had 151 outstanding absentee ballots on Nov. 7. As of Monday, the office had received 25 absentees that will count toward the final tally.

Why this matters 

To refresh, a provisional ballot, according to the Ohio Secretary of State, is a regular ballot that a voter fills out while their 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 comes into play for two races in Ashland County. 

In Perrysville, two candidates for mayor each received 84 votes — Steve Goines and Bob Zakutni. 

In Mifflin, mayor candidate Vickie Shultz received 25 votes. Her opponent, write-in Fred Craig, received 24. The race, Johnson has said, is too close to call. 

At least two provisional ballots were cast in each village. 

Whether or not those provisionals were accepted or rejected on Wednesday remains to be seen. 

Ashland County Board of Elections board member Andrew Keller commended the staff for the job they’ve done this year.

“This is three elections this year and … it’s amazing teamwork and it was a high-turnout election,” Keller said.

Lead reporter for Ashland Source who happens to own more bikes than pairs of jeans. His coverage focuses on city and county government, and everything in between. He lives in Mansfield with his wife and...