Wood County ballots certified; four new security seals added to process

The Wood County Board of Elections certified the results of the Nov. 8 general election on Monday after ruling on provisional ballots.

Final count for the Nov. 8 general election had 49,132 voters cast ballots from a pool of 92,293 registered voters in Wood County, for a 53.23% turnout. There were 31,357 ballots cast on Election Day, for a 33.98% turnout. There were 16,755 absentee ballots cast, making up 18.15% of the turnout. Provisional ballots made up 1.11% of the vote, with 1,020 ballots certified by the WCBOE.

Terry Burton, co-director of the Wood County Board of Elections, was pleased with the election.

“I thought it went fairly smoothly. We were done earlier than I expected. I expected, between the turnout and the extra processes they were asking for at the end of the day, I estimated that it was going to be maybe 11 or 11:30 p.m. and really, we had results by about 10:15 or 10:30 p.m.“ Burton said.

Four new security seals were added to the process. Wood County, for several elections in a row, has been a test county for additional security measures. Many of those measures end up getting adopted state-wide in subsequent elections. Burton, in previous interviews, said that this is because of the computer expertise and years of experience at the Wood County Board of Elections.

“We added security seals. There is a process we asked the poll workers to do, on multiple places on each machine, just to ensure that nothing is tampered with. There were new seals that were added on the way out, that poll workers checked in the morning. It’s just another layer of insurance that nothing has been touched, but coming and going, and that it’s only been touched by the poll workers,” Burton said.

He said that after final provisional ballot certification there were no changes in election results.

“There were minor percentage changes, but nothing. No races were close enough. There weren’t enough (provisional) votes out there for any race to flip,” Burton said.

He added that no changes were close enough for a recount.

Two meetings were held at the WCBOE. The first meeting took place in the morning, during which 102 fatally flawed ballots were rejected, and 1,002 provisional ballots that were cast in accordance with the Ohio Revised Code and the Secretary State Directive were certified.

The rejected ballots fell into five categories:

– 84 ballots were from voters who were not registered

– six ballots were from voters who were registered in Ohio but voted in the wrong precinct and wrong polling location

– two voters did not sign the provisional envelope

– eight voters did not provide a Wood County address

– two voters had already voted

“A couple (of voters) voted absentee, but wanted to make sure that their vote made it in,” Jonathan Jakubowski, Republican member of the WCBOE, said in a phone interview. “It was all pretty standard.”

Following the morning meeting, the WCBOE proceeded to finish the official count. The afternoon meeting certified the official count.

In other business, the board also reviewed the legal advice from the prosecutor’s office regarding the six Freedom of Information Act requests related to the 2020 general election.

“We had multiple requests this past summer for copies of practically everything paper related to the 2020 general election. All those requests were from people in Ohio, but not in the county. We’re in the process of working through that. They do bear the responsibility of paying the copy costs,” Burton said.

The estimate for costs, from an outside contractor, was $38,705. There are 72 banker boxes filled with the requested information.

The legal determination is that the WCBOE will begin at the top of the list, in the order in which the requests came in, asking if the individual will pay for the work. That person will pay the entire amount and then the remaining people on the list will be able to receive the information for free.

“You have to pay the costs of the paper. They don’t pay directly for our labor, but in a case like this, this would be daunting, not only for our staff, but there probably would not be enough hours in the day. We would have to outsource this and when you outsource to a third party, because of a volume situation, you are allowed to charge back the costs for the outsourcing,” Burton said.