Republican Troy Balderson led Democrat Danny O’Conner by a small number of votes following Tuesday’s Ohio special election for a vacant seat in Congress
But there are still nearly five times as many outstanding ballots as the apparent margin of victory
Ohio law says officials can’t open absentee ballots and make their totals official until the 11th day after an election – giving them ample time to arrive in the mail
Provisional ballots are often given to people who show up to vote after requesting absentee ballots; those can’t be examined for 10 days either
Donald Trump has already congratulated Balderson and claimed credit for mobilizing his base, but nothing will be final until at least August 18
By DAVID MARTOSKO
8 August 2018
Tuesday’s hotly contested special election for an Ohio congressional seat is tight and could get tighter still when nearly 8,500 absentee and provisional ballots are counted.
But it could take until August 18 – or later – to determine whether Republican candidate Troy Balderson’s 1,754-vote margin will stand.
Ohio law prohibits officials from making their county-by-county totals final until the 11th day following an election. That’s because absentee ballots are counted if they’re postmarked by Election Day and arrive by the 10th day afterward.
There are 5,048 outstanding absentee ballots in the Ohio squeaker.
Provisional ballots, too, have to remain sealed until August 18. Otherwise Ohioans who request absentee ballots and also show up to vote in person could be counted twice. When that happens, the voters are given provisional ballots.
After 10 days have gone by and officials are sure those absentee ballots are still unaccounted for, the corresponding provisional ballots are opened and added to the totals.
The 12th Congressional District race saw 202,521 votes cast and counted on Tuesday. State law triggers an automatic recount if the margin of victory is less than 0.5 per centage points – in this case, 1,012 votes.
Green Party candidate Joe Manchik snagged 1,127 votes on Tuesday, more than enough to have put Balderson’s margin of victory over Democrat Danny O’Connor well into that range.
O’Connor could still request a recount regardless of the numbers. And he’s likely to run again in November.
Donald Trump decided not to wait for the dust to settle, taking credit Tuesday night for Balderson’s ‘great victory’ in the bellwether race even though it’s still too close to call.
The president said Balderson had been far behind in early voting before he hosted a rally for him on Saturday night in the suburban Columbus district. After that speech, he tweeted, ‘there was a big turn for the better.’