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Published: Thursday, 11/8/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Lucas County’s ballot count ends 8 hours after polls close

BY FEDERICO MARTINEZ
BLADE STAFF WRITER

When Lucas County election results were filed from Tuesday’s election, most people weren’t even up.

Eight hours after the polls had closed, the board of elections filed its tabulations — behind some other larger Ohio counties.

But elections officials said that delays are to be expected, especially in a presidential election with high voter turnout.

“It is a very time-consuming process,” said Jon Stainbrook, an elections board member. “But it’s our job to make sure that everyone’s vote is counted.”

During the evening, election officials first had to transfer hundreds of paper ballots to ballots that could be read by voting machines.

Those paper ballots had to be transferred because they contained irregular markings, were torn, or were soiled so badly that they couldn’t be fed into vote counting machines, Mr. Stainbrook said.

The board had to review and approve each of those ballots before they could be counted, he said.

County tabulating also was delayed for a short while a corrupt data card was replaced on a ballot counting machine.

The elections board finished reviewing the ballots about 3:30 a.m.

Several other large Ohio counties were slow in finishing the voter counts: Franklin, which has 1,099 precincts, didn’t complete its count until 2:54 a.m. Hamilton (home to Cincinnati), with 545 precincts, didn't release voting results until 2:27 a.m. Lucas County has 353 precincts.

At 65 percent this year, voter turnout was higher in Lucas County than four years ago.

In 2008, with 318,036 voters on the rolls, the turnout was 70 percent, with 220,457 voters.

The county went through a purge of inactive voters two years ago, reducing the registration to 310,123.

Meghan Gallagher, elections director, said election officials were expecting a large turnout.

Many residents took advantage of the opportunity to vote by mail this year, Ms. Gallagher said. The number who turned in absentee ballots this year was not available.

“There were a lot of paper ballots this year,” Ms. Gallagher said. “It wasn’t unexpected. This was a presidential election.”

Interest in Lucas County results was especially high because of the close presidential race in battleground Ohio.

Voting also was tight for several local issues, including including two countywide levies.

Contact Federico Martinez at: fmartinez@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.



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