How will the additional ballots counted impact the Ohio Statehouse results?

By: - November 4, 2020 2:50 pm

A photo of the Ohio Statehouse from Wikimedia Commons.

The dynamic of absentee and provisional ballots being counted after Election Day has the potential to affect numerous Ohio Statehouse races.

Republicans currently hold a 61-38 lead in the Ohio House of Representatives and a 24-9 lead in the Ohio Senate.

As it stands, the GOP has flipped at least four seats in the House that are currently held by Democrats, while there is one seat that is currently poised to flip from red to blue. With some districts still too close to call, it appears the Republican Party will net at least a few House seats headed into a new term.

In the Senate, the Republicans appear to have flipped one Democrat-held seat. Another GOP-held seat is the closest election of all, and if Democrats can win it the chamber would remain with the same power breakdown as it has now.

The Ohio Secretary of State’s website offers the number of outstanding absentee ballots as well as the number of not-yet-counted provisional ballots for each county. However, there is not a specific breakdown which specifically gives how many additional ballots will be counted within each district.

The bigger the margin a candidate already has in early votes and Election day votes, the harder it is for the trailing candidate to make-up ground. 

Boards of elections are supposed to begin the “official canvass” of votes on Nov. 14, with Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose directing them to finish by Nov. 18. So we will not know the final outcomes of these races until then.

Here are some races the Capital Journal is following that remain close:

Ohio House of Representatives

A map of the Ohio House of Representatives races that remain closely contested with more absentee and provisional ballots to be counted.

16th District: With the early votes and Election Day ballots counted, Republican incumbent Rep. Dave Greenspan trails Democratic challenger Monique Smith by 1,180 votes. There are 17,746 provisional votes and more than 25,000 outstanding absentee ballots. 

Based on the breakdown of absentee ballots leaning toward Democrats, it will be tough for Greenspan to close the gap with ballots still to come. But the race remains close. This is a noteworthy result for Democrats, as it would mark a flipped district from red to blue. 

36th District: This is an open seat in a suburban Akron district, with Republican candidate Bob Young leading Democratic candidate Matt Shaughnessy by 2,741 votes. The state reports there are a little over 7,000 provisional ballots in Summit County and more than 7,432 outstanding absentees. Shaughnessy would need thousands of those votes to be located in his district, and they’d just about all have to break toward his direction. This district seems likely to stay in Republican hands.

60th District: This is an open seat in Lake County that Republicans are trying to flip red. Democratic candidate Daniel Troy has a 785-vote lead over GOP candidate George Phillips. The state is reporting around 2,900 provisional votes and close to 3,000 outstanding absentee ballots in Lake County. 

The trouble for Phillips: Lake County is split into two districts, so not every incoming vote there will be in the 60th. And while Trump is on track to win Lake County, it still looks tough for a Republican down the ballot to net 800 votes to overcome their Election Day deficit. This district seems likely to remain in Democratic control.

64th District: Republicans were able to flip three Appalachian Ohio seats, but Democrats are hoping to hold on to this one. Democratic incumbent Rep. Michael O’Brien leads Republican challenger Martha Yoder by 370 votes. The vast majority of the district is located in Trumbull County, but it also includes the southern tip of Ashtabula County. 

The state is reporting 2,767 provisional ballots were cast in Trumbull County along with 2,755 absentee ballots still outstanding. Can O’Brien hang on after all the votes have been counted?

75th District: This could be another flip from blue to red. Democratic incumbent Rep. Randi Clites is trailing to Republican challenger Gail Pavliga by 1,164 votes. The district encompasses about two-thirds of the vote in Portage County east of Akron. 

The state is reporting 1,855 provisional ballots cast and 1,349 outstanding absentee ballots. Clites would these votes to break heavily in her favor to pull off a come-from-behind win. 

Ohio Senate

A map of the Ohio Senate races that remain closely contested with more absentee and provisional ballots to be counted.

Only a few of the 16 Ohio Senate races are close enough to come down to provisionals and absentees. 

16th District: This election is as close as they come. Republican incumbent Sen. Stephanie Kunze leads Democratic challenger Crystal Lett by just 41 votes with the early votes and Election Day votes counted. The state is reporting more than 24,000 provisional votes cast in Franklin County, with more than 27,800 absentee ballots still outstanding. 

Just how many additional votes will be counted in this district? That is unclear. But the initial totals on Tuesday — with just early votes included — went toward Lett. 

32nd District: This was the best-named election in Ohio, with Democratic incumbent Sen. Sean O’Brien facing Republican challenger Sandra O’Brien. Republicans are poised to flip this seat, with Sandra O’Brien taking a 2,692-vote lead over the incumbent. 

The district includes all of Ashtabula and Trumbull counties, where the state is reporting a combined 3,797 provisional ballots and 3,877 outstanding absentee ballots. The share of Geauga County ballots still to be counted for this district is relatively small, a few hundred at most.

Sean O’Brien would have to see these additional ballots counted break entirely in his direction — a result made harder by the fact that Trump carried all three of the district’s counties. This seat appears likely to flip red.



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Tyler Buchanan
Tyler Buchanan

Tyler Buchanan is an award-winning journalist who has covered Ohio politics and government for the past decade. A Bellevue native and graduate of Bowling Green State University, he most recently spent 6 1/2 years as a reporter and editor of The Athens Messenger and Vinton-Jackson Courier newspapers. He is a member of the BG News Alumni Society Board and was a 2019 fellow in the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism.