Provisional ballots could tip balance in 5 races

The close races include those in Boardman, Campbell, Beaver, Coitsville and Lowellville.

By David Skolnick

YOUNGSTOWN — It could be close to a month before official winners are declared in as many as five closely contested elections in Mahoning County.

“It will go past Thanksgiving,” said Thomas McCabe, the elections board’s director.

The main reason for the delay, McCabe said, is a state law that requires county boards of elections to wait at least 11 days after the election to start counting provisional ballots. That 11th day is Nov. 14, a Saturday. As the board traditionally does, employees won’t open provisional ballots until Nov. 16, a Monday, to avoid having to pay overtime to the staff, McCabe said.

Provisional ballots are cast by people who move into a voting district no more than 30 days before an election, those who changed their name [typically through marriage] without notifying the board of elections or fail to provide a valid form of identification when they go to the polls.

During the wait, election employees will verify provisional voters’ addresses and eligibility.

Board employees on Wednesday were counting the number of provisional ballots received. They were expected to conclude that count today.

Those provisional voters could decide the outcome of as many as five races. Those races, with the unofficial results from Tuesday’s election included but without those who voted provisionally, are:

- Boardman Board of Education in which John Landers has 5,558 votes for the third and final spot on the board compared to incumbent Niklaus Amstutz with 5,543 votes.

- Campbell Board of Education with Diana Petruska ahead of Crystal Elash 1,274 to 1,268 for the third and final spot on the board.

- Lowellville Board of Education with incumbent John A. Wilaj ahead of incumbent Lori Carlson by 6 votes, 529 to 525 for the third and final spot on the board.

- Beaver Township trustee in which incumbent Thaddeus J. Lyda Jr. has 896 votes compared to 880 votes for Alfred Barney Davison for the second and final seat up for grabs this election.

- Coitsville Township trustee with Gregory T. Haren, with 342 votes, beating 24-year incumbent Walter Avdey with 334 votes.

After opening the provisional ballots, board employees will count them two days, McCabe said.

The board needs to schedule a meeting no later than Nov. 24 to approve the final results, McCabe said.

If a candidate wins a race by 0.5 of a percent or less, there is an automatic recount.

State law requires the board of elections to wait at least five days and no more than 10 days for an automatic recount after the results are certified, McCabe said.

Also, a candidate who loses by more than 0.5 of a percent can request a recount though there hasn’t been one in several years, McCabe said.

The board is required to charge candidates seeking recounts who lost by more than 0.5 of a percent is $50 per precinct as a deposit under state law, McCabe said.

But after the recount is finalized, as long as there are no additional expenses incurred by the board, $45 per precinct is returned to the candidate, McCabe said.

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