Ohio provisional ballots could determine next president - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Ohio provisional ballots could determine next president

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Ohio may be the most important battleground state in election 2012.  But it could be weeks before we know who won Ohio and, perhaps, the White House.

13abc reporter Bill Hormann went down to the early voting center in Toledo.  The lines were long, again, Monday.  But on election day, some voters who applied for an absentee ballot-- but did not turn it in--will have to cast a provisional ballot.

And those provisional ballots will not get counted until November 17th.

Meghan Gallagher is the director of the Lucas County Board of Elections.  She says those ten days are needed to verify those ballots.  "You still need to ensure that the person voting casting the ballot is that voter.  It's to protect the voter," she told 13abc.

As of Monday, about 200-thousand provisional ballots may be cast on election day in Ohio--7,417 of them in Lucas County, according to BOE numbers.

This year, the provisional ballots are a lot simpler and less error-prone than in 2008.  That could be really important when it comes to counting the provisional ballots because that could mean fewer get tossed as invalid.

Monday's Rasmussen poll shows the race in Ohio is tied between the president and Mitt Romney.

So any provisional ballots that have to be counted ten days from now could determine who is the next president.

Lucas County Democratic Party chairman Ron Rothenbuehler believes the process will work, telling reporter Bill Hormann,  "I think Lucas County is ready to meet the demands and hopefully be able to count and have the public believe we're doing a good job in getting the ballots counted correctly."

But both campaigns have lawyered up.  Teams of attorneys are in state looking for any trouble, any mistake that could turn the election.

Any challenge by the lawyers could mean Ohio's provisional recount won't begin until *December* leaving the country waiting on Ohio.

Republican Party chairman Jon Stainbrook believes the election will be smooth, saying, "Right now, what I've seen is actually one of the most fair, clean and honest elections to date but nevertheless, the lawyers are in the wings waiting."

Here's the time line...

Ohio will count its provisional ballots November 17th.

If there's a court challenge counting could be delayed until early December.

But Ohio has to submit its results to Congress by December 11th.

Then the Electoral College meets December 17th.

So what if Ohio doesn't have a final count by December 11th?

We're waiting for the Secretary of State's office to tell us.

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