Dublin Villager

Kilroy-Stivers case awaits Supreme Court ruling

Voters anticipating a resolution to the still undecided 15th district congressional race between Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy and Republican Steve Stivers will have to wait until at least mid-December for a definitive answer.

On Dec. 1, the Ohio Supreme Court received 374 pages of arguments and evidence from the parties in a case that will determine whether the Franklin County Board of Elections will count 1,000 provisional ballots cast in the Nov. 4 election. The ballots in question did not include both the signatures and printed names of voters on the ballot envelopes.

Franklin County Board of Elections spokesman Ben Piscitelli said even if the Supreme Court rules swiftly that the provisional ballots should be counted, it will take the board until at least mid-December to count and certify them.

Once the results are certified, Piscitelli said the board will know if automatic recounts are needed. A recount is required if the vote count separating candidates in a race is within one-half of 1 percent.
As of Nov. 24, Stivers led Kilroy by 479 votes. Franklin County voters Dana Skaggs and Kyle Fannin filed a complaint Nov. 13 against Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner on behalf of Stivers' campaign, re-questing that those ball-ots not be counted.

U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley ruled Nov. 20 that the missing signatures were the result of poll worker error and should be counted. The lawyer representing the voters immediately appealed.

On Nov. 25, the 6th U.S. Circuit of Appeals ruled that the issue involves state law, not federal law, and sent the case back to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Attorneys for the Franklin County Board of Elections, the Secretary of State's office, the Ohio Democratic Party and the ACLU of Ohio say the provisional ballots should be counted rather than dismissed on technicalities.

Kilroy, a Franklin County commissioner who previously ran for Congress in 2006, received 48 percent of votes already counted in Franklin County, compared with 43 percent for Stivers, a state senator currently representing the 16th district. The 15th congressional district also includes Union and Madison counties.

If the uncounted votes follow the same percentages, according to an analysis by The Columbus Dispatch, Kilroy will pick up 5,958 new votes and Stivers will get 5,356, a gain of 602 votes for Kilroy and enough to give her an eight-vote win -- and trigger an automatic recount.

Neither Kilroy nor Stivers has declared victory.