Summit County Board of Elections votes not to count absentee ballots delivered without postmarks

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AKRON, Ohio - The Summit County Board of Elections has voted not to count more than 800 absentee ballots from the November election that were delivered by the U.S. Postal Service without postmarks.

The law allows absentee ballots to be counted if they were mailed by the close of the polls on election day. But without postmarks it is impossible to tell if the ballots were mailed on time.

Board of Elections Chairman Timothy Gorbach told Fox 8 News on Thursday that the number, about 9% of the total absentee ballots, is a concern when they can't count ballots that may have been mailed on time.

Some of the local races and issues on November's ballot were decided by very slim margins, including several council seats, the mayoral election in Munroe Falls and two school levies in the Springfield Local School District.

In each case several hundred votes could have easily made a difference in the outcome.

"300 'yes' votes would make my life a lot easier, that's absolutely true," said Chris Adams, the Springfield Schools Treasurer, commenting on a close renewal levy that failed.

January Everman is a Summit County resident who voted absentee, and now does not know if her vote is among those that weren't counted.

"I took time out of my day to fill out paperwork that I don't really have because I work full-time. I'm a full-time mom and I go to school," said Everman.

Board of Elections Director Joseph Masich and Deputy Director Paula A. Sauter met with representatives of the U.S. Postal Service Thursday afternoon to share their concerns.

Following the meeting the Postal Service officials declined comment on how so many absentee ballots could have been delivered without being properly postmarked.

U.S. Postal Service Spokesman David Van Allen released this written statement:

“Our leadership team is already investigating this issue and plans to meet with Board of Election officials today with any preliminary results we find. The Postal Service has a proud tradition of participating in the democratic process by processing and delivering political election mail, including domestic and overseas absentee ballots. We appreciate the importance and sensitivity of election mail and work hard to deliver every piece on time and ensure the mail is processed correctly.”

CLICK HERE for more stories on the November election.

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