The rosters for the Frontier Local Board of Education and Barlow Township trustees were finalized Tuesday after recounts required by their narrow margins.
The Washington County Board of Elections spent more time discussing a couple of improperly marked ballots that caused one race's vote total to change by one and an expanded recount in the other than they did certifying Kurt Bohlen as the third member of the Frontier Local Board of Education and Richard Best as the second Barlow Township trustee to be elected in the Nov. 5 general election.
Best edged out fellow incumbent Darren Roddy by three votes, a number that stood up after the recount.
"Thank you to all the good people who voted for me," Best said Tuesday after being told of the results. "I plan on working so hard in the Barlow Township that even the ones who didn't vote for me are going to wish they did."
Best said Roddy is a good man who "would have done us a fine job" had he won instead.
Both men finished behind Corey Proctor in the trustee race.
Final, official election results
Frontier Local Board of Education
M. Todd Collins - 796
Gale D. DePuy II - 758
Kurt Bohlen - 744
Daryl E. Bowersock - 738
Barlow Township trustees
Corey W. Proctor - 350
Richard Best - 303
Darren Roddy - 300
Source: Washington County Board of Elections.
Bohlen joins Todd Collins and Gale DePuy II as a new member of the Frontier board after three incumbents did not seek re-election. After the Nov. 25 canvas, Bohlen led former board member Daryl Bowersock by just seven votes. Bowersock picked up one extra vote in the recount.
An automatic recount is triggered when the difference in votes for candidates falls within one-half of 1 percent of the total votes cast in the race. By law, the recount involves a hand count of ballots from at least one precinct that includes a minimum of 5 percent of the votes cast in the race. If the electronic and hand counts cannot be reconciled after three rounds, all votes are to be hand counted.
Examining the ballots
Although the Election Night scan and a second scan of the ballots showed Bowersock receiving 284 votes in the randomly selected Newport Township, the hand count revealed an additional vote for Bowersock.
Board of Elections director Tara Hupp said that was apparently because the voter did not completely fill in the oval for Bowersock, as the ballots instruct voters to do.
In the Barlow Township race, the hand count of the Vincent precinct matched, but a required electronic scan of both precincts showed one less vote for Best than originally counted on Election Night. Election staff members then counted the Barlow precinct ballots by hand as well and discovered another partially marked oval that scanned correctly on Election Night but not during the recount.
"Both of those ballots have the same type of marking, and that's an attempt at an 'X' in an oval," election board member Dennis Sipe said.
Board members expressed some concern that two different machines read two different vote totals in the Barlow race, even it was only one ballot.
"I'd like them to all be the same," board member Jim Huggins said.
"That's why we do the hand count," Hupp said. "We caught it with the hand count."
Hupp said the machines could have differing levels of sensitivity, while Sipe said the very process of scanning the ballots or transporting them could have had a effect that somehow reduced the amount of black from the mark at a level as small as a pixel, resulting in it not being read the second time.
Board member Tom Cox suggested future recounts be done on the same machine on which the votes were originally counted. Sipe said the board should consider posting large signs in polling places reminding people to fill the oval completely. Cox said perhaps pollworkers could give voters a brief reminder when handing them a ballot.
Still, the three board members present (fourth member Charlie Wentz was absent) agreed they were confident in the results. Cox said the extra work done by the staff demonstrates how far they're willing to go to get the numbers right.
"I think we've gone above and beyond, which is very good," Huggins said.