On election day, the vote count at the Summit County Clerk’s office had to deal with a last-minute surge of in-person voters, and a level of voter enthusiasm that has probably set a record for a midterm election.
Summit County Clerk Kent Jones said that on Tuesday night, they counted about 17,000 ballots. Those were comprised of mail-in ballots they had received up to but not including Tuesday—and ballots placed in the county drop-boxes, up until 3:00 pm Tuesday.
Although county voting is now done mostly by mail or drop-off, Jones said the county saw a substantial number of people voting in-person at the county’s four voting stations. That’s because a recent change in state law now allows same-day registration. A person showing up with proper ID and documents can register and vote with a provisional ballot.
Staffers at the clerk’s office said that, as of 8:00 pm Tuesday night, there were as many as 60 people lined up to vote at the Richins Building voting station. Jones said for that reason, he put off announcing the vote tallies until about 10:00 pm Tuesday night.
“We had uploaded all the ballots the 17,000 onto our system here by about 8:30 tonight but I would not release results while there were people still voting, because there were people in line at the Richins building at 8:00. We waited until they finished voting before we released any results.”
KPCW asked if that was a legal requirement.
“Well its my requirement” Jones replied, “I wouldn’t feel good about releasing results when there’s still people out there voting. So, we waited until all four vote centers were shut down and people had voted. Then we released results.”
He said he could only make a guesstimate of the numbers of in-person voters on Tuesday.
“Just a guess, I think there will be 1,000 people between Richins and Marsac. Coalville I think had something over 200 and Kamas had something around 300. So, we’ve probably got about another 1,500 people that voted today at vote centers throughout the county.”
Following election night, the clerk’s office still has to count whatever qualified ballots have come in by mail, or placed in the drop boxes, or cast in Tuesday’s in-person balloting.
“Our first priority starting Wednesday now will be, we’ll take all the vote center votes that were cast on election day and we’ll qualify all of those. Then anything that comes in the mail with a good postmark that qualifies we’ll get them ready and between now and Friday whatever comes in the mail that qualifies. Plus, we should have all of the vote center votes ready to add to our election night totals. We’ll pick up the rest of the droboxes first thing Wednesday morning and those will be included with the by-mail that we get in the morning.”
Jones said it’s hard to estimate how many outstanding ballots are left to be tallied. But he said the voter turnout of ballots so far has been 67 percent.
“We mailed out a little over 25,000 so we’re just under 70% return on the mail which is awesome for a midterm election. That’s probably the highest we’ve ever been on the midterm. We’re not that far behind what we were two years ago with the presidential elections.”
Jones also said an updated count will be announced on Friday and possibly another next Tuesday. The final canvass of votes is set for Tuesday, November 20th.