Provisional ballots could cause Ohio vote count "nightmare" - News, Weather & Sports

Provisional ballots could cause Ohio vote count "nightmare"


For the first time in history Ohio is allowing any voter in the state to cast an absentee ballot.

However, former Secretary of State Ken Blackwell is warning of a ballot counting "nightmare" that could potentially affect the outcome of the presidential race.

The problem begins when someone who has received an absentee ballot, but doesn't fill it in, shows up at their board of elections to vote. They will be given a provisional ballot instead of being allowed to vote on the spot.

Xavier University Political Science professor Gene Beaupre says there could be a potential problem with a large number of provisional ballots. "The risks seem to be that if they get a substantial number of provisional ballots. In fact they'd have to get more than the margin of victory in the race, then that becomes an issue."

For example- if candidate "A" is beating candidate "B" by 100-thousand votes, but there are 101-thousand provisional ballots, under Ohio law those ballots couldn't be counted until ten days after the election. That could potentially make the outcome of the presidential race dependent on the results of the Ohio vote.

On the other hand Beaupre says "Lets say one of the candidates won by 100 votes and there were 98 provisional ballots, they would not make a difference in the count."

Sally Krisel, Assistant Director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections is one of the people with the job of making that count, says they are ready. "We will have staff here. The provisional ballots on every election take a lot of time and effort. You have ten days to look at those and make your recommendations to the board. So whether you have 10,000 or 2,000 our staff has to get it completed within a certain amount of time, and we do it."

At the Hamilton County Board of Elections business has been brisk since early voting began one month ago. That coupled with the high number of absentee ballots being returned; overall voter turnout is expected to be high.

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