COLUMBUS — Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose wants Ohioans, including candidates, to be patient on election night.
With the potential of hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots cast in Ohio for the general election, it could be weeks rather than hours before winners will be clear in local, statewide and national races.
“The unofficial results we report on election night are just that, unofficial results,” LaRose said. “This year it may be a little more unofficial than usual. The numbers will change between election night over the next few days. That doesn’t mean there’s something nefarious.”
Typically, voters get unofficial results from county boards of elections and LaRose’s office on election night, more often than not allowing citizens around the state to know outcomes a few hours after polls close. Those results, however, did not become official until results are canvassed three weeks later. Results, though, rarely change from the unofficial results.
This cycle, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, LaRose has mailed every registered voter in Ohio an application for an absentee ballot. And, he continues to work on providing postage-paid return envelopes for those ballots. In all, mailing the application cost $1.1 million and needed 17 full truckloads to deliver to the U.S. Post Office.
Ohio absentee ballots can be received up to 10 days after the election, as long as they have the proper postmark.
Ohio can begin processing, but not count, absentee ballots before polls close, which LaRose believes is an advantage. Election workers can remove ballots from envelops, flatten them and prepare them to be counted.
Also, LaRose said he is redesigning the state’s website that reports election night results to include current vote totals as well as how many absentee ballots remain out.
“Tens, possibly hundreds of thousands, of absentee ballots could still be expected to come back,” LaRose said.
LaRose wants those voting absentee to request their ballot as soon as possible.
“Whether you’re voting on election day, early in-person or taking advantage of the absentee request form arriving in your mailbox, Ohioans should know voting will be safe and secure in Ohio,” LaRose said. “With the convenience of voting from home comes responsibility – don’t wait to make your voice heard. Get your ballot request form in the mail as soon as you can.”