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Published: Friday, 4/16/2004

Lost ballots not likely to affect Otsego levy

While the Lucas County Board of Elections is still cataloguing and counting 300 completed but forgotten ballots from the March 2 primary election, the impact of the newfound ballots on one race is clear, and Otsego Local School District officials can breathe easier.

Paula Hicks-Hudson, director of the elections board, said just one of the absentee ballots found in a storage room more than five weeks after the election was cast by a voter from within the school district, which had been nursing a 33-vote lead on an $18.4 million capital improvements ballot measure.

The measure would pay for renovations at its elementary schools and for the construction of a new high school.

"As far as we can determine in our review, there is only one ballot in the Otsego school district, which would not have an effect on the outcome," Ms. Hicks-Hudson said.

The victory will not become official for the district, which straddles the Henry, Wood, and Lucas county lines, until the Lucas County Board of Elections certifies its primary election vote. That is scheduled to occur on Tuesday.

The 300 ballots, which Ms. Hicks-Hudson said had never been counted, were discovered last week in a storage closet in the board's offices, more than five weeks after the primary election.

An investigation is under way to determine who put the ballots in the storage room and how they could have gone undetected for so long.

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