Board not ready to talk about recounts

LISBON — It is too soon to determine whether any of the close results from Tuesday’s election will automatically trigger a recount.

“There is no sense talking about recounts until we do the official count,” said Columbiana County Board of Elections Director Kim Fusco.

The official count occurs later in the month and includes late-arriving absentee ballots and provisional ballots, which are those cast on election day but go uncounted because of voter registration questions raised by poll workers.

Fusco said there are 121 outstanding absentee ballots that were mailed to voters and will be counted if received by Nov. 15 and the return mailing is postmarked no later than Nov. 5. There are also 212 provisional ballots, and the staff will inspect them to determine whether the voter was legally registered.

The elections board will meet Nov. 19 to decide which provisional ballots and late-arriving absentees ballots can be counted and added to those votes cast on election day. The board will then meet on Nov. 26 to perform an official count of all ballots.

For an automatic recount to occur, the margin has to be less than 0.5 percent. The continuation of an additional 0.25 percent city income tax in Salem passed 1,221 to 1,209, or 50.24 percent to 49.76 percent, when Mahoning County totals were included.

In Washingtonville, a proposed police levy was deadlocked, with 60 people voting in favor and 60 opposed. Of those 120 votes, 62 were cast by Columbiana County residents and 58 by Mahoning County residents.

The race for the final Columbiana City Council position came down to Dan Dattilio with 705 votes and Brian Lalama with 694 — a margin of 0.35 percent –and also includes Mahoning County totals.

Much of this will be determined by how many of the valid outstanding absentee ballots and provisional ballots were cast in the abovementioned races. History has shown these votes generally fall along the same line as those cast election day, with no candidate or issue receiving significantly more than the other or enough to change the outcome.

“Again, we don’t take about (recounts) until the official count. There were some close races, and all I can tell you is wait,” Fusco said.

In related news, only 23,557 of the 63,028 registered voters in the county cast ballots. The 37.3 percent turnout was more than 10 percent below estimates despite a number of contested races and ballot issues.