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Missing ballots cast doubt on Toledo City Council tally (OH)
Toledo Blade. September 22, 2009. By TOM TROY, BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Original: http://toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090922/NEWS09/909220398/-1/OPINION02

The Lucas County Board of Elections has 1,092 ballots that could be added to last week's Toledo primary election count, putting the final results for Toledo City Council in doubt.

The additional ballots include 166 absentee ballots accidentally left uncounted last Tuesday, Director Linda Howe said Monday.

She said two employees, a Republican and a Democrat, have received reprimands in their files and have come up with procedures to avoid a recurrence of the neglected ballots.

Only 145 votes separate 12th-place finisher Terry Biel from Mark Clark, who came in 13th.

Mr. Biel, a Democrat, received 5,394. Mr. Clark, a Republican, received 5,249 votes.

The top 12 vote-getters move on to the Nov. 3 general election to compete for six at-large seats on city council.

The 14th-highest vote-getter, independent Stephen Ward, received 3,717 votes and is out of the running, according to the unofficial results.

The 166 uncounted absentee ballots were from Wards 19 and 20 of East Toledo and were found on Thursday, Ms. Howe said.

Ms. Howe said the bins containing ballots from those wards were accidentally omitted during scanning of absentee ballots on Tuesday.

In addition to the 166 uncounted absentee votes, 545 provisional ballots were determined to be valid.

The 711 uncounted ballots will be counted Saturday when the board's official canvass begins, and when all of the precinct books are verified, but won't be reported until noon Monday when the board meets to certify the results.

Ms. Howe said the Secretary of State's office advised her that the results from counting the 711 votes must be kept secret until the canvass is declared official.

She did not disagree that preventing word from leaking out as soon as the count is complete could be difficult, especially if Mr. Biel and Mr. Clark end up switching positions.

However, she said that only employees working in the room where the vote-counting system is located will know the results, and they will be instructed not to disclose the information.

There are also an additional 381 potential ballots, most of which are not likely to materialize, Ms. Howe said.

Those include 106 absentee ballots that were challenged because of voter mistakes, such as failing to sign the outside envelope.

Those voters have received letters giving them 10 days from the election to fix the ballots, Ms. Howe said.

And 275 absentee ballots that were mailed to voters have not been returned.

The ballots had to be postmarked by the day before the election, unless they were mailed from outside the country, in which case they had 10 days for their ballots to be received.

Contact Tom Troy at:
or 419-724-6058.

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