Board of Elections gearing up for weekend voting

Frank Lewis

November 1, 2012

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

The Scioto County Board of Elections is preparing for last minute voting on the final weekend before election day.

“I think we will really be busy this weekend,” said Julia Gearheart, Director of the Scioto County Board of Elections. “We’ve had over 3,000 voters in the office. Four years ago we had a little over 1,000.”

Gearheart said last Friday (Oct. 26) alone, 304 people voted in the Board of Elections office. Gearheart reminded residents that they will still be able to cast votes in the board office this weekend.

“Saturday we will be here from 8 (a.m) to 2 (p.m.) and Sunday 1-5 (p.m.). And people can still vote on Monday from 8 (a.m.) to 2 (p.m.),” Gearheart said.

So far, 3,037 voters have requested ballots in the office, and 3,035 votes are countable. The office has received requests for 5,119 ballots by mail, and have received 4,057 back; 185 people have come in to get absentee ballots. All the voting sources added together show 8,526 requests for ballots and 7,396 votes cast.

Gearheart said votes can be scanned and ready to upload, and when polls close at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, all absentee votes must be uploaded.

“I have to report absentee results to the Secretary of State by 7:45 (p.m.),” Gearheart said.

As for the votes coming in from the various polling places, Gearheart said all of the precincts have to balance out. Once that is done, they are brought into the Board of Elections where they are uploaded.

A federal appeals court on Wednesday temporarily halted an attempt by voter advocates to expand the conditions under which provisional ballots are counted in the swing state of Ohio.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati put on hold a lower court’s ruling that said the state must count provisional ballots cast not just in the wrong precinct but in the wrong polling location altogether.

With less than a week before Election Day, the appeals court ruling brought some clarity to one of the remaining disputes involving Ohio’s election procedures. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s broader appeal on the matter remains before the appeals court, but it isn’t expected to be decided before the election Tuesday.

Husted said Wednesday that the court’s move allows him to provide Ohio’s 88 county elections boards with guidance for processing provisional ballots, which are counted later and can be challenged. Allowing the lower court ruling to continue, he said, had the potential to cause problems and confusion.

“Voters could have cast ballots wherever they wanted to in the county, regardless of their eligible precinct,” Husted said in a statement.

The ballots at issue are dubbed “wrong church, wrong pew,” referring to both a mistaken polling place and a mistaken precinct.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@heartlandpublications.com.