A final decision on the winner of the sixth at-large seat for Toledo City Council will have to wait until next Monday when the Lucas County Board of Elections is tentatively set to count more than 500 provisional ballots to certify the Nov. 5 election.
In a special meeting Monday, the board validated 504 provisional ballots in the city of Toledo and 194 from Lucas County jurisdictions outside the city. Validation is a first step toward scanning and counting the ballots, which will take place before the board certifies the vote, probably next Monday, but possibly Tuesday.
Democratic Councilman Adam Martinez narrowly edged out fellow Democrat Larry Sykes for the last of six at-large council seats in the unofficial count reported on Election Night, by 34 votes, according to the unofficial final vote.
If Mr. Sykes picks up 35 more votes in the provisional ballots than does Mr. Martinez — and if the final count is upheld in an automatic recount, Mr. Sykes would be named the sixth at-large councilman, ousting Mr. Martinez. If they tie, the chairman of the board draws a lot to determine the winner.
Both Mr. Martinez and Mr. Sykes were at the board meeting to keep a close eye on the sometimes-controversial process of validating and counting provisional ballots. Also on hand was independent council candidate Theresa Gabriel — the fifth highest vote-getter.
“I certainly trust the process. We have to wait and see,” said Mr. Martinez. “I have advisers who are familiar with it, and if necessary we will get an attorney.”
Mr. Sykes said he was there to see how it worked.
“I’ve never been in a situation like this. I don’t think anybody really knows what’s going on as far as what was being thrown out,” he said.
Asked if he had a concern about valid ballots being thrown out, he said, “not at this point.”
The board rejected 138 provisional ballots as invalid. The ballots are concealed in envelopes that bear the voters’ information.
Three years ago, the provisional vote count changed the outcome of the Lucas County commissioner race from the unofficial winner on Election Night — Republican George Sarantou to the certified winner, Democrat Carol Contrada.
Voters cast provisional ballots usually because they have moved and their new address is not included in the voter rolls given to precinct workers or if the voter is already on record as having requested an absentee ballot. The board staff uses the 10 days after the election to verify that voters live in the precinct where they voted or that their absentee ballot was not mailed in.
Deputy Director Dan DeAngelis said the votes will be scanned as part of the official “canvass” of the vote to reconcile the vote totals with the signature books completed in the polling places. He said no one will get a “sneak peak” before the certification meeting of the board.
In the same meeting Monday, Meghan Gallagher, the Republican director of the elections board, requested the board facilitate a meeting between her and Mr. DeAngelis, a Democrat, to discuss the board’s budget, including $68,000 in unpaid invoices. Ms. Gallagher said the county is in danger of incurring late fees or could lose credit the board has with the company it leases trucks from.
“I am asking one or two board members to sit down with Dan and [me],” Ms. Gallagher said. “I have tried on numerous occasions to meet with the deputy director on the budget. I’m uncomfortable with the lack of communication because both of us are responsible for the budget, and we have a lot of outstanding invoices.”
Democratic board Chairman Ron Rothenbuhler declined to set a meeting, telling Ms. Gallagher and Mr. DeAngelis that the board expects a recommendation at its December meeting on whether to request additional funds from the commissioners. He said if he has to call a special meeting in order to get the director and deputy director together after the Nov. 5 vote has been certified, he will do so.