Ohio counties have until Nov. 18 to count ballots

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW)– Local boards of elections will have until Nov. 18 for their official ballot count, according to a directive from Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

It also outlines how boards of election release results, requirements for recounts and post-election audits. Boards will be also required to report the number of absentee ballots that were issued but not returned after the polls close.

“The Secretary of State’s election night reporting website will highlight this data to underscore the fact that the election night results are never final as there are still outstanding absentee and provisional ballots that could impact the outcome of a race,” LaRose’s office said in a news release.

But this directive moves the deadline for counties to complete the official canvass from Nov. 24 to Nov. 18, according to a group of state representatives. The four lawmakers, including Reps. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) and Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown), sent a letter to LaRose objecting to the change.

“With all of the problems we’ve seen around the state from ballot delays to people getting the wrong ballots and needing a replacement ballot in some cases, we are likely to see more ballots arriving in the 10-day window after Election Day. Our boards of elections will need time to process and count all of these ballots. We need your assurance that you are giving the counties enough time to count every vote in light of the large number of mail-in ballots. You cannot end the official canvass of the votes before every vote is counted,” the lawmakers said.

The group said the official canvas is required by state law to begin between Nov. 14 and Nov. 18, and be completed by Nov. 24.

Polls in Ohio are open from 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked no later than Monday and received by the county board of elections no later than 10 days after the election. The U.S. Postal Service estimates that it may take two to five days for your voted absentee ballot to be delivered, according to the secretary of state’s office.

County boards of elections must be open to the public for seven days follow Election Day to allow voters to resolve any issues with their absentee ballot. For the first time in a general election, every county board of elections must attempt to contact a person who had an issue with their absentee ballot by phone or e-mail.

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