LISBON - The Nov. 6 election may be over but election observers remain.
Official election observers for the Democratic and Republic parties have taken up temporary residence at the Columbiana County Board of Elections while the staff processes 1,030 provisional ballots.
Provisional ballots are those cast election day but that go uncounted because of questions over voter residency and registration. These ballots remain uncounted until those questions are resolved by the staff over the next two weeks.
While election observers were present at the board offices on Nov. 6, elections board director Adam Booth said another Democratic observer arrived the next day and has remained. The Republicans sent an observer on Tuesday.
"They watch, observe us processing provisional ballots" to ensure no election chicanery occurs, he said.
Observers are a relatively new development that came to prominence following the 2000 presidential election and the Florida recount. They have since become an increasingly permanent fixture at election boards around the country.
Booth speculated the state parties may have sent them because of the closeness of the state representative race, where Democratic challenger Nick Barborak defeated incumbent Republican Craig Newbold on election day, 22,064 to 21,681.
"I guess they want to have eyes and ears on the ground," he said of the political parties.
Despite the closeness of the race, it does not currently qualify for an automatic recount under Ohio law, which requires the margin to be less than 0.5 percent of the total. Based on election night totals only, Barborak won by 383, but the margin would have to be 219 to trigger an automatic recount.
The same goes for county recorder, where Republican Theresa Bosel won on election night by 484 over Democrat Brenda Dickey Myers, but the margin needed to be 211 for a recount.
Booth said as it stands none of the ballot issues appear to qualify for an automatic recount either, although that could change after they determine which provisional ballots can be counted. The closest of these is a liquor sale issue for the Glenmoor Marathon station in St. Clair Township, which was ahead by two votes on election night.
Booth said it has been his experience that provisional ballots generally follow the same voting pattern as election day, and if there any changes they are slight and usually only affect races where the margin is very slim.
He expects the provisional ballots process to continue over the next two weeks, with the elections board likely to meet Nov. 27 to certify the final results after a final county is performed once the provisional ballots have been added into the mix with those votes cast Nov. 6.