In a special session Friday, the Delaware County Board of Elections ruled on the provisional ballots and the remainder of the absentee ballots from the Nov. 7 election.
The board will decide on write-in ballots and conduct the official canvass today at 4 p.m. That session is open to the public.
The board received a request from the Franklin County Board of Elections and the City of Westerville to move the meeting from Nov. 27 to this past Friday. Westerville’s corporation limits include both Franklin and Delaware counties.
Deputy Director Anthony Saadey said according to Westerville’s charter, candidates running for an office in Westerville are to be sworn into office Dec. 1.
“Westerville and Franklin County called us,” he said. “Westerville’s charter overrules the Ohio Revised Code. Westerville swears in their winners immediately and they need five days after the official canvass to allow candidates to request a recount. Our original date wouldn’t have given the five days.”
In order to be compliant with Westerville’s charter, Delaware County’s Board of Elections met to rule on a total of 541 provisional ballots.
According to the Ohio Secretary of State’s website, “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.”
The Ohio Secretary of State’s office oversees the state’s elections.
Board officials said the 541 ballots were absentees that were folded, spindled, with incorrect or missing information that could not be counted the day of the election. In a clarification, board members said some of the ballots were also received late, after election night, but were postmarked correctly.
Board members said they were only allowed to use in-office sources to assist in the verification process. In some cases, the official rules governing the process provide no latitude for the board.
“It’s tiny little detailed things,” said board member Peg Watkins.
Even though the board wants to give every possible ballot a chance at being valid, no matter how slim, Watkins said the board has to follow the law and that sometimes means “we don’t want to rule the way we do rule and sometimes you don’t feel good about some of this stuff.”
“Sometimes there’s more leeway than others,” said Saadey. “Sometimes it leaves it up to the board where other times it’s clearly laid out.”
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.