Ohio Recount Rules: Balderson vs. O’Connor Special Election

ohio recount rules

Getty Ohio recount rules could be triggered in the 12th Congressional District special election

As the Ohio special election in the 12th Congressional District goes down to the wire, many people are wondering: At what point is a mandatory recount triggered?

What are the recount rules in Ohio congressional districts?

With 100 percent of the vote in, according to The New York Times, Republican Troy Balderson had 50.2% of the vote and Democrat Danny O’Connor, the Franklin County Recorder, had 49.3% of the vote. Balderson had 101,574 votes and O’Connor had 99,820. The Green Party candidate, Joe Manchik, had 1,127 votes.

Thus, Balderson, a state legislator, was ahead by 0.9 percentage points, or 1,754 votes, with all precincts counted. However, there are provisional and absentee ballots still outstanding, according to CNN and Cleveland.com. “The results won’t become official until more than 600 additional ballots are tabulated in 10 days: those from provisional voters and absentees mailed in from overseas and the military,” reported The Columbus Dispatch.

The Ohio Secretary of State released a statement saying: “County boards of elections reported that 3,435 provisional ballots were cast and there were 5,048 outstanding absentee ballots. Under state law, boards of elections cannot begin counting these ballots until the 11 th day after the election, August 18, when boards may begin the official canvass.”

Trump endorsed Balderson and some are painting the special election as a bellwether for the midterms and voter opinions on the president, even though the special election was only to fill the last few months of a term in a vacated seat, meaning the candidates will meet again in November. The president tweeted about the race:

O’Connor did not concede the race:

Here are the recount rules in Ohio:


Automatic Recount Trigger

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, these are the margins needed to trigger an automatic recount in Ohio:

0.25% or less for statewide office

0.5% for other offices

You can read Ohio election code here.

Ohio code reads: “If the number of votes cast in any district election for the declared winning nominee, candidate, question, or issue does not exceed the number of votes cast for the declared defeated nominee, candidate, question, or issue by a margin of one-half of one per cent or more of the total vote, the secretary of state shall order a recount which shall be conducted as provided in sections 3515.04 and 3515.05 of the Revised Code.”

Because the Balderson and O’Connor race is not a statewide office – it’s a Congressional district race – the race would need to be within 0.5 percent to trigger the mandatory recount. CNN also reported during its live broadcast that a margin of less than 0.5 percent is needed to trigger the automatic recount provisions in Ohio.

Automatic recounts are publicly funded.


A Requested Recount in Ohio

Even if a mandatory recount were not triggered, there is a procedure in Ohio through which a candidate can request a recount anyway. “But a losing candidate can also request a recount if the difference between votes isn’t small enough to set off an automatic recount. To do this, the presumed loser has to request a recount through a written application,” Vox reported.

In a facts sheet on Ohio recount rules, the American Civil Liberties Union wrote, “If the margin of victory is larger, any losing candidate may request a recount; or any group of five or more voters may request a recount for an issue. Applicants must file in writing, at the Board of Elections (BOE) of every county in which they want a recount, within five days after the initial results are announced, and pay $50 for each precinct in which they want a recount.”

According to the ACLU, “Recounts must be scheduled within ten days after the application is filed.”

The Ohio district is normally considered a safe seat for Republicans as it hasn’t elected a Democrat since the 1980s, according to Vox. It’s also a district that Trump handily won in the 2016 presidential race. The polls had predicted a close race.

There was a requested recount in the Republican primary for the special election.

The race seesawed back and forth all night. With 99 percent of the vote in, Republican Troy Balderson’s lead stood at 50.1 percent of the vote compared to 49.3 percent for Democrat Danny O’Connor. The race is considered too close to call. You can see the election results here on the Ohio Secretary of State’s website.

With 95 percent in, Balderson led with 49.9 percent of the vote to 49.5 percent for O’Connor in the closely watched race in a district that went for President Donald Trump. The margin narrowed even more, and Balderson was up by a mere 1 percent with 98 percent of the vote in.

You can read more about the race here.

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