Provisional ballots could affect outcome of BL levy

LISBON – The outcome of a Beaver Local school levy that generates $1.2 million per year will depend on how five provisional votes fall and if any last-minute absentee ballots arrive by mail.

The 5.3-mill levy was renewed Tuesday by only three voters (813-810), but the results exclude provisional ballots, which are those cast on election day but are set aside because of voter registration questions raised by poll workers. They remain uncounted until the questions are resolved.

Columbiana County elections board Director Adam Booth said there are 26 provisional ballots, five of which were cast by voters in the Beaver Local school district.

“If all five are in Beaver Local and all count, it could change it if they all voted against it. We won’t know that for a while,” he said.

Election boards cannot by law certify results before two weeks have passed, and the staff uses that time to determine if the provisional ballots should be counted toward the official total.

The same goes for any absentee ballots that may be received in the next several days. Absentee ballots received by mail can still be counted if they were postmarked by May 6.

Booth said there are 60 outstanding absentee ballots, and he estimated six to 10 will likely arrive by mail in time to be included in the final count.

Boards have until May 27 to complete the process and meet to certify election results.

Even if the levy passes once provisional and absentee ballots are included, Booth said the outcome could be close enough to trigger an automatic recount. “It looks like it could be close enough … but we won’t know until we certify,” he said.

In related news, Booth reported the problem with poll workers calling off continued on election day, with two reporting off and another four simply not showing up.

Under Ohio law, four poll workers – two Democrats and two Republicans – are assigned to each of the 89 polling places, or precincts, in the county. The board has a reserve pool of 40 to assign, and 20 poll workers reported off on the day before the election.

As for the election day call-offs and no-shows, Booth said they were able to find replacements for all but one, leaving one precinct with only three poll workers. “It was all right because turnout was light, but it’s not something we like to do,” he said.

Only 14.6 percent of the county’s 65,280 registered voters cast ballots in Tuesday’s election. Booth estimated turnout would be in the 15 percent-20 percent range.

Finally, Tim Ginter received 484 write-in votes in his unopposed bid to secure the Republican nomination for state representative. He will face Democratic incumbent Nick Barborak in the November general election.