Provisional, Absentee Ballots Likely to Determine 15th Congressional District Race

Franklin County voters continued to return paper ballots the day of the election
Franklin County voters continued to return paper ballots the day of the election

The race for the 15th Congressional District between incumbent Republican Deborah Pryce and Democratic challenger Mary Jo Kilroy remains too close to call. The winner probably won’t be known until later this month.

In the yet to be decided 15th Congressional District race candidates Mary Jo Kilroy and Deborah Pryce say they’ll be watching to ensure that all outstanding ballots are counted correctly. Here’s Democrat Kilroy on Wednesday.

“Every voter who spent their time, made their thoughts known by casting a ballot deserves that respect,” Kilroy said. “And I want to make sure all the votes get counted in this very critical election.”

Incumbent Republican Deborah Pryce holds the lead by as few as 3600 votes. But some 20,000 absentee ballots and 21,000 provisional ballots in Franklin County have yet to be tallied. Not all those ballots will have votes for Pryce or Kilroy because 15th district only covers half of the county. But the uncounted ballots from the district may well determine who wins the election.

“Congresswoman Pryce has a very small lead over Commissioner Kilroy, too early for us to tell. The most important is the one that the board of elections certifies on the 21st.”

Franklin County elections director Matt Damschroder would not speculate on who may win the 15th district. And he cautioned against speculating how the uncounted ballots would add-up.

“As we look at historical trends with absentees and provisionals, you have to look at those as a sample whole of the county and one can expect that they’re not going to break significantly differently than the rest of the county,” Damschroder says.

Mary Jo Kilroy says she believes a large number of provisional ballots were cast by students in precincts around Ohio State University and that they likely voted for her. There’s speculation there could be as many as 4,000 provisional ballots from the OSU area. But Matt Damschroder says he thinks that number is, in his words, “wildly overestimated.”

“When you look at 21,000 provisional ballots cast county wide at 830 some-odd precincts, it would be difficult to statistically justify or expect that that significant a percentage would come from just six to ten precincts,” he said.

Regardless of where the votes were cast, the candidates, according to Damschroder, can rest assured. Every legitimate vote, he says, will be counted.

“This is really a good exercise for voters and for the process to demonstrate that votes really do count. Even if it’s a provisional ballot, a late absentee or someone voting on election day, Those votes make a difference, those votes add up to determine winners and losers.”

The elections board has ten days to verify and approve provisional ballots. The results, which will also include absentee ballot figures, won’t be released until November 21st.

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