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Mahoning County invalidates 476 ballots

YOUNGSTOWN — The Mahoning County Board of Elections certified its election results after invalidating 476 late-arriving mail and provisional ballots in what was the highest turnout for an election in the county in more than two decades.

After counting 2,653 valid late-arriving mail and provisional ballots, turnout rose from 70.99 percent on election night to 72.59 percent Wednesday after the board certified the results.

In previous presidential-election years, turnout was 70.82 percent in 2016, 72.2 percent in 2012, 72.31 percent in 2008, 68.9 percent in 2004, 65.1 percent in 2000 and 71.25 percent in 1996.

“It’s not that much different than several of the past presidential years,” said Thomas McCabe, deputy director of the board of elections. “It was a little higher because of the push to vote early and the enthusiasm for and against the president (Donald Trump) and for and against (Joe) Biden.”

With the additional votes counted, margins of victory changed by tiny amounts in races.

For example, Trump was ahead of Biden by 1.93 percent on election night. After the results were certified, Trump won by 1.9 percent.

For late-arriving ballots to count, they had to be postmarked by Nov. 2, the day before the

election, and arrive at the board by Nov. 13. A provisional ballot is used if a voter’s eligibility is in question and was counted if that was verified by last Friday.

Of the 3,129 late-arriving and provisional ballots the board received, 2,653 were deemed valid. That’s 84.8 percent of those votes approved.

“It’s normally closer to 90 percent, but considering the election we had with the volume of mailed ballots and high turnout, that’s not bad,” McCabe said.

Among the 378 provisional ballots invalidated, 330 people weren’t registered to vote.

Of the rest, 12 voted by mail and then at their polling location, 11 didn’t sign the ballot envelope, six improperly used overseas ballots when they live in the county, six voted in the wrong county, five turned in an envelope without a ballot inside, four moved from another state and voted here, two never put their ballots in the tabulating machine, one didn’t fill out the outside of the envelope, and one voted in the wrong polling location and wrong precinct.

The board doesn’t plan to prosecute the 12 who voted twice after speaking to them, McCabe said.

“We think it’s just confusion at this point,” he said. “Many of them didn’t see their ballot was returned on our website so they voted at the polling locations. You can track them on our website, but some arrived the day before the election, the day of the election or the day after. A couple just said they wanted to make sure their vote counted. We haven’t found any intent to cheat.”

Among the 98 rejected late-arriving absentee ballots, 66 were postmarked after Nov. 2 making them invalid, 20 didn’t have a signature on the envelope containing the ballot, five had none of the required identification on the envelope, four returned envelopes without ballots, one signature didn’t match, one had the wrong Social Security number, and one had a different name than what the board had on file, said Ann Simms, the board employee in charge of absentee and provisional ballots.

dskolnick@tribtoday.com

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