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Hamilton County's Provisional Ballots Could Decide Several Suburban Mayoral Races

Hamilton County's final count in the November5 election began Tuesday, and the results could have a major impact on some suburban races that were very close in the unofficial count on election night.

Tuesday, the board of elections approved counting 11,797 provisional ballots that were cast on election day.

The board ended up rejecting 1,028 – 666 of them because the people who cast them were not registered voters.

Another 273 were rejected because they were cast by voters in the wrong precinct or polling location. It is possible that some of those people were among those who did not receive notices from the board of election telling them polling locations had changed.

Those nearly 11,800 could have an impact on some suburban races that were extremely close in the initial count on election night.

The provisional ballots, along with late arriving absentee ballots, could decide the mayor's race in Norwood, where Republican Ken Crawford led Democratic incumbent Thomas Williams by 18 votes on election night out of nearly 4,000 votes cast.

In Glendale, Don Lofty had a two-vote lead over Jenny Kilgore in a race where 1,026 voted were counted on election night. In St. Bernard, JohnEstepheld a six-vote advantage over BillBurkhardtin a race where over 1,300 votes were cast.

Elections director Sherry Poland says she's not certain how many provisional ballots were cast in those communities, but said it would not take many to change the election night outcome.

Hamilton County had an unusually high number of provisional ballots cast this year because of problems with the new e-polling system. The board of elections must certify the final count by next Tuesday and send them on to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.  

If recounts are necessary after the official count, they will be scheduled at next Tuesday's board meeting. 

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Howard Wilkinson joined the WVXU News Team after 30 years of covering local and state politics for The Cincinnati Enquirer. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Wilkinson has covered every Ohio governor’s race since 1974 as well as 12 presidential nominating conventions. His streak continued by covering both the 2012 Republican and Democratic conventions for 91.7 WVXU. Along with politics, Wilkinson also covered the 2001 Cincinnati race riots; the Lucasville Prison riot in 1993; the Air Canada plane crash at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 1983; and the 1997 Ohio River flooding. The Cincinnati Reds are his passion. "I've been listening to WVXU and public radio for many years, and I couldn't be more pleased at the opportunity to be part of it,” he says.