Ohioans Won’t Know Official Election Results for Weeks, Secretary of State Says

September 9, 2020by Rick Rouan, The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (TNS)
The redesigned "I Voted" sticker that will be offered to voters in every Ohio election through 2022. Election results in Ohio won't be official for weeks. (Ohio Secretary of State's Office)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose warned voters during a Tuesday news conference that results reported after the polls close on Election Day will be strictly unofficial, and he said state law bars his office and county boards of elections from reporting any additional results until the official canvass is completed weeks later.

With as many as half of Ohio voters expected to cast absentee ballots, that means results hanging on a thin margin could change in the official results, and it could be nearly Thanksgiving before those are reported.

“The numbers will change between election night and the final certification. That’s not a sign of something nefarious. In fact it’s the contrary. It’s a sign of the system working like it’s supposed to,” LaRose said.

Ohio law requires county boards of elections to count any absentee ballot that is postmarked by Election Day as long as it arrives at the board within 10 days of the election.

LaRose predicted that “tens, probably hundreds, of thousands” of absentee ballots could still be out and uncounted on election night but still arrive in time to legally be counted.

A candidate declaring victory based on the unofficial election night results, particularly in a tight race, is a “nightmare scenario,” he said.

The secretary of state’s office is trying to combat that by reporting the number of absentee ballots that are still outstanding when results are reported on election night. If a candidate wins the state by 50,000 votes, but 100,000 absentee ballots still are not returned, the result could change.

Ohioans won’t get a progress report between election night and the official results either. LaRose said state law doesn’t allow for any additional results reporting after the initial report until the official canvass is completed.

Ohio law requires the official canvass to be done within 21 days of Election Day. That means boards would have until Nov. 24, two days before Thanksgiving, to compile the final result.

LaRose has predicted record turnout for the election and said that he expects as many as half of voters to cast absentee ballots. His office sent absentee ballot requests to Ohio’s 7.8 million registered voters, and local boards of elections already have been dealing with an unprecedented flood of requests.

He also has asked the Ohio Controlling Board to allow him to use $3 million in revenue his office generates from business filings to pay for return postage on ballots. The request is on the board’s Sept. 14 agenda, but it’s unclear whether he has the support needed for approval.

State law prohibits county boards of elections from paying for postage, but it does not prevent the secretary of state from doing so. LaRose plans to buy first-class postage stamps and then provide them to county boards.

House Republicans already approved a bill earlier this year that would ban LaRose from paying for postage, and Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof has expressed skepticism about the legal footing.

“Every argument I’ve heard against it so far has been based on false premises,” LaRose said Tuesday.

“I have not heard any reasonable policy argument against it.”

Ohio’s Congressional Democrats sent LaRose a letter on Tuesday that urges the secretary to use his “existing authority” to pay for postage. Those same elected officials, including U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty, sent the Controlling Board a letter last month encouraging them to approve the request.

“We support your request to use business funds to prepay postage on absentee ballots, but given the time lag in approval from the controlling board, we urge you to allocate existing funds that do not require controlling board approval,” they wrote in the letter.

LaRose has said he cannot spend money on postage without the board’s consent.

On Tuesday, LaRose also warned voters again about the spread of disinformation leading up to the election. Asked if President Donald Trump’s urging voters who cast absentee ballots by mail to also vote in person, which is illegal, qualified as disinformation, LaRose said it was not.

“What I’m more so talking about when we’re talking about reporting disinformation is when there’s a paid and persistent effort or an organized effort online to spread false information intentionally. Certainly public officials misspeak from time to time or say something that needs to be corrected,” he said.

“Certainly (Trump’s comment) doesn’t fall in the disinformation protocol that our office has set up. But it does fall into the category of I guess what you would call misinformation, where something incorrect was said and it’s my responsibility as secretary of state to make sure that Ohioans know the facts.”

Those facts, LaRose said, are the Ohioans will be allowed to vote only once, and could be prosecuted for voting multiple times if “intentionality” can be proven.

“That’s not something Ohioans should do. Ohioans should know they’re only going to be allowed to vote once. They shouldn’t try to vote multiple times,” he said.

———

©2020 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

In The News

Health

Voting

In The News

Passenger Rail Supporters Say ROI Worth the Costs
Transportation
Passenger Rail Supporters Say ROI Worth the Costs
May 7, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON - President Biden’s advocacy during a speech in Lake Charles, La., for $2.25 trillion in infrastructure spending won support from passenger rail executives who testified in Congress Thursday. Biden’s plan would set aside $621 billion specifically to rebuild the nation's roads, bridges, rails and airports.... Read More

Red Meat Politics: GOP Turns Culture War into a Food Fight
Political News
Red Meat Politics: GOP Turns Culture War into a Food Fight

President Joe Biden planned to ration red meat. Colorado Rep. Rep. Lauren Boebert suggested Biden "stay out of my kitchen." Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted out a headline warning Biden was getting "Up in your grill." The news was wrong — Biden is planning no such... Read More

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms Not Seeking Reelection
In The News
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms Not Seeking Reelection

ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced Thursday she will not seek a second term, an election-year surprise that marks a sharp turnabout for the city's second Black woman executive who months ago was among those President Joe Biden considered for his running mate.... Read More

Some Republicans Worry Voting Limits Will Hurt the GOP, Too
In The States
Some Republicans Worry Voting Limits Will Hurt the GOP, Too

As Republicans march ahead with their campaign to tighten voting laws in political battlegrounds, some in their party are worried the restrictions will backfire by making it harder for GOP voters to cast ballots.  The restrictions backed by Republicans in Georgia, Florida, Iowa, Texas and Arizona... Read More

House Panel Discusses VA Diversification Efforts
Employment
House Panel Discusses VA Diversification Efforts
May 6, 2021
by Victoria Turner

WASHINGTON - By late 2020 over 2800 formal Equal Employment Opportunity complaints of discrimination - by race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion and more - were submitted to the Department of Veterans Affairs. The fact that there are that many complaints in one year points... Read More

Russian Economy Damaged By Western Sanctions, Think Tank Finds
Think Tanks
Russian Economy Damaged By Western Sanctions, Think Tank Finds
May 6, 2021
by Daniel Mollenkamp

WASHINGTON- Although western sanctions have not forced the Russian government to completely end its aggressions in Ukraine, the true impact of the sanctions has not been fully acknowledged, according to a new report from the Atlantic Council, an international affairs think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C.... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top