By Christine Bryant
Though election night fell more than a week ago, the outcome of a handful of races remains uncertain.
In the race for filling three at-large spots on Reynoldsburg City Council, Kristin J. Bryant and current council member Barth R. Cotner unofficially finished first and second, respectively. However, who will fill that third spot is less clear, with Stacie A. Baker and Kelly S. Cruse separated by just one vote – Baker with 3,097 and Cruse with 3,096.
The race for a school board finished extraordinarily close as well. Jeni Quesenberry finished first and current school board member Joe Begeny finished second.
However, like city council, who will fill the third spot is still unclear, with Robert M. Barga receiving 3,073 votes and current board member Robert G. Truex II garnering 3,071 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 races that potentially could be within that 0.5-percent margin include the Reynoldsburg City Council and Reynoldsburg Board of Education races.
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. The board of elections must certify the election no later than Nov. 28.
“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.
Unofficial totals from the Franklin County Board of elections show 197,844, or 23.1 percent, of those registered in Franklin County voted in the Nov. 7 general election.
Here are the unofficial results for Reynoldsburg and Truro Township from the Nov. 7 election, according to the Franklin County Board of Elections:
•City Auditor (one elected): Stephen Cicak, 3,422; Mildred Johnson, 3,082.
•City Council (three elected): Kristin Bryant, 3,215; Barth Cotner, 3,154; Stacie Baker, 3,097; Kelly Cruse, 3,096; Chris Long, 2,885; and Aaron DeLong, 2,752.
•Board of Education (three elected): Jeni Quesenberry, 4,348; Joe Begeny, 3,909; Robert Barga, 3,073; Robert Truex II, 3,071.
•Township trustee (two elected) Stephanie McCloud, 3,032; Dennis Nicodemus, 2,309.
•Reynoldsburg City Charter amendments: #1 – Purchasing and contracting procedures: Yes, 5,096; No, 1,086; #2
Publication: Yes, 5,126; No, 1,042; #3 Planning Commission: Yes, 3,968; No, 2,063; #4 Board of Zoning Appeals: Yes, 3,976; No, 2,039; #5 Zoning Measures: Yes, 4,529; No, 1,487.