Published: Saturday, November 11, 2006
Vote-counting in Ohio to be sidelined for football game
Absentee votes will just have to wait.
COLUMBUS (AP) In a state chided by visiting comedian Jon Stewart last week for its football obsession, vote counting is being sidelined during the much anticipated Ohio State-Michigan game.
The decision by county election officials not to open Nov. 18 the day of the storied gridiron rivalry affects another closely watched matchup: the congressional race between incumbent U.S. Rep. Deborah Pryce and Democratic challenger Mary Jo Kilroy.
Franklin County Elections Director Matthew Damschroder has opted to wait to count 18,000 absentee and provisional ballots that will decide the tight congressional race until the official ballot tally, which election boards can begin Nov. 18.
Pryce leads Kilroy by between 2,835 votes and 3,536 votes, depending on whether county or state totals are used, but Kilroy has yet to concede the seat because of the uncounted ballots.
Damschroder grudgingly concedes that football is a factor in the schedule decision, but he said worker fatigue is the bigger issue.
"The law says we're allowed to begin on the 18th, but we don't have to begin until the 22nd, and we've worked every Saturday since probably August," Damschroder said. "We're going to give our people a Saturday off."
Ironically enough, Kilroy is hanging her hopes of victory on Ohio State students, much as Buckeye football fans are.
She campaigned heavily with the campus crowd including appearing at a campus rally with 2004 presidential contender John Kerry and believes many of the uncounted provisional and absentee ballots were cast by Ohio State students who support her.
In another undecided race in Ohio, Republican Rep. Jean Schmidt, who called Democratic Rep. John Murtha a coward, is ahead of her challenger by more than 2,300 votes. She has claimed victory in the Cincinnati-area 2nd District, but her Democratic opponent Victoria Wulsin didn't concede, saying there were enough uncounted provisional and absentee ballots to change the outcome. There were roughly 4,700 ballots to be counted.