By Christine Bryant
Though election night fell more than a week ago, the outcome of a handful of races remains uncertain.
In the race to fill four spots on Urbancrest’s village council, Shawn Moore unofficially finished first with 81 votes, followed by Steven Larkins with 76 votes and Alicia Wiggins with 75 votes. Already tight, the race for a fourth-place finish saw Alicia Skinner garner 67 votes and Veronica Shepherd finish with 61 votes.
Any race that finishes within a 0.5-percent margin after officials verify provisional ballots and include absentee ballots that are received after election day will undergo a recount.
Aaron Sellers, public information officer for the Franklin County Board of Elections, says the Urbancrest village council race potentially could fall within that 0.5-percent margin.
Though some uncertainty lingers among several hotly contested races throughout central Ohio, Sellers says the Board of Elections follows a plan to finalize the results.
“Election night we conducted the unofficial canvass, which constitutes the unofficial election night results,” he said. “That includes all votes cast on election day and the 28-day period of early absentee voting.”
Election Day provisional ballots and absentee ballots not received by Election Day – which must be postmarked Nov. 6 and received by the Board of Elections no later than Nov. 17 to be counted – are not included in the unofficial canvass, he said.
Next, the Board of Elections examines provisional affirmations to determine any eligibility questions.
“Provisional voters have seven days to provide us additional ID requirements that may have flagged them to vote a provisional ballot on Election Day,” Sellers said. “Provisional voting ensures that no eligible elector is denied the opportunity to cast a ballot in an election.”
The official canvass – or the process by which the board certifies the election – may begin Nov. 18, but must begin no later than Nov. 22. Any verified provisional votes and later-arriving absentee ballots are added into the results from election night.
“If a race falls within the margin of 0.5 percent, then a mandatory recount must take place,” Sellers said. “After the appropriate board of elections or the Secretary of State has ordered an automatic recount, it must take place no later than 10 days after that order.”
If a municipality stretches into multiple counties, all counties would perform the same tasks in the recount for votes cast in their county, Sellers said.
“Once completed, they would provide those findings to the county with the largest population of the city or township the contest was for,” he said. “Franklin County is the largest county in all of the races that could have recounts.”
If a race does not fall within a 0.5-percent margin of victory, which would trigger a mandatory recount, candidates have another option. Candidates or their political party may request a recount, though must also pay for that recount, Sellers said.
“This has happened in the past, but is rare,” he said.
Once a recount begins, Sellers says he is not aware of any time constraints associated with finishing the recount process, but notes it would be conducted in a timely manner.
If a specific race is tied after the recount is completed, Sellers says in the past, the tie has been broken with a coin flip at a public board meeting.
“I’m only aware of a couple times in the past 10 years that a coin flip was needed to break ties,” Sellers said.