The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 10, 2012

Ashtabula County provisional count is slow but steady

Election staff studies each ballot carefully

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — Hundreds of votes cast in Tuesday’s general election are getting extra-special attention from Ashtabula County Board of Elections staff.

They are provisional ballots — 1,361 of them — and they require lots of scrutiny before they are added to the county’s final totals. Election board workers have already spent two days examining the provisionals, and their work may not be complete until the end of next week, said Carol Lovas, election board director.

The outcome of a handful of very tight races may hinge on the provisionals — or at the very least determine whether recounts are ahead.

People are given provisional ballots for a number of reasons; most couldn’t produce the identification required at their polling place or showed up to vote at a different precinct. Each provisional requires laborious checking and cross-referencing to make sure the voter is legitimate, Lovas said. Signatures on file are examined, as well as polling books, she said.

“It takes time and work to go through every single one separately,” Lovas said.

The study could be complete by Friday, when the election board plans to meet to formally certify the provisional ballots. The board is scheduled to meet again on Nov. 27 to certify all the ballots — mail-in, in-person and provisional — from last week’s election. Those results will determine whether automatic recounts will happen, Lovas said.

Temporary employees have been hired to help speed up the provisional review, Lovas said. The process can be occasionally monitored by representatives from both political parties, she said.

At least one candidate race, the Eastern County Court battle between incumbent Judge Robert Wynn and attorney Gary Pasqualone, could result in a recount. Wynn won by only 133 votes (out of 20,651 ballots cast). The Jefferson Area Local Schools district’s five-year 2-mill was defeated by just 53 votes, 2,669-2,616. Also in the Jefferson area, a referendum authorizing the village to acquire the former Jefferson Elementary School and transform it into a police station passed by just five votes, 639-634.