Butler County received 9,000 paper ballots to count on Election Day

Gayle Harrison votes at the Butler County Board of Elections on Princeton Road in Hamilton on Election Day Tuesday, April 28 after it had been postponed due to coronavirus pandemic. Boards of Elections offered limited in-person voting to the disabled, homeless and those who didn’t receive a ballot after requesting one. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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Gayle Harrison votes at the Butler County Board of Elections on Princeton Road in Hamilton on Election Day Tuesday, April 28 after it had been postponed due to coronavirus pandemic. Boards of Elections offered limited in-person voting to the disabled, homeless and those who didn’t receive a ballot after requesting one. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Butler County was one of the last boards of elections to report election results Tuesday because it received nearly three times as many ballots than any day.

The results were announced about 10:35 p.m. Tuesday.

Around 9,000 ballots were received Tuesday to be processed and counted, according to election officials. The late reporting of counted ballots also was attributed to a second postal delivery of ballots. The board usually receives one delivery from the post office.

“The process for counting paper ballots is a very long process,” said elections Director Diane Noonan.

MORE: Check out the area’s 2020 primary election results

During a presidential election, it’s common for the board to received thousands of ballots a day, and the most one-day delivery of paper ballots was around 3,600 in the 2016 presidential election. Odd-year elections, the average is a few hundred a day, said elections Deputy Director Eric Corbin.

There are some 5,000 ballots the elections board has not yet received, but it is unlikely they’ll receive many of them. Elections offices can count any late-arriving ballots up until 10 days after the election, but they must be postmarked by April 27.

In March, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton declared a public health emergency due to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and ordered all polls closed scheduled for the March 17 primary election. Ohio lawmakers formally moved Election Day to Tuesday, despite Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose wanting it to be in early June.

Butler County was on pace to mirror voter turnout in the 2016 presidential primary at 41.2 percent. Pending late-arriving and provisional ballots to be counted, 18.4 percent, or less than 45,500, of Butler County’s 247,000-plus registered voters participated in the extended primary election.

Statewide, 22.65 percent of Ohio voters participated in the 2020 presidential primary, with some 1.76 million ballots cast from 7.77 million voters. Around 200,000 absentee ballots are still outstanding statewide, and 44,368 voters cast provisional ballots, according to the state.

Butler County will conduct its official of Tuesday’s election, which will include all uncounted valid ballots, on May 19.

Election officials say they are uncertain how COVID-19 will impact the general election in November. Noonan said they’re “hoping to get guidance soon from the Secretary of State’s office, but we will prepare for a high vote-by-mail turnout (in November).”

Corbin has no doubt the 2020 primary election will impact the 2020 general election.

“We’re going to have a lot of voters this fall who’s going to be concerned about the coronavirus,” he said. “And the best thing they can do, if they don’t want to be exposed to the public, is to vote from home and vote by mail. That’s going to be the fastest, the easiest and a secure way to cast their ballot.”

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