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'Large number of vote-by-mail ballots' expected to delay primary counts in Hamilton County

BOE: 10,000 ballots turned in Tuesday alone
PHOTOS: Cincinnati votes
Posted at 9:01 PM, Apr 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-28 23:21:50-04

NORWOOD, Ohio — Hamilton County elections officials said primary results probably won't come in until after midnight Wednesday as workers tabulate thousands of mail-in votes.

Ohio's 2020 primary was unlike any other in the state's history after Gov. Mike DeWine and health director Dr. Amy Acton ordered the March 17 election to be all absentee and extended until April 28. Voters who postmarked their mail-in ballots by April 27 or who dropped off their ballots to their board of elections office by 7:30 p.m.

"Due to a large number of vote-by-mail ballots received today, the Board does not anticipate to complete the count until after midnight," the board said in a news release Tuesday evening.

COVID-19 precautions have turned an already complicated ballot counting process on its head, and Board of Elections Executive Director Sherry Poland said workers received approximately 10,000 ballots on Tuesday alone.

As far as 2020 turnout, 118,000 ballots have come in as of yesterday out of the 140,000 ballots requested.

"The return envelope has to be sliced open, the identification envelope removed, the identification envelope scanned, the information compared to our voter registration system, verified, then fed back through the scanner, sorted into precinct order," Poland said.

All ballots are then sorted between those that can and cannot be accepted at this time.

Poland said 70% of Hamilton County voters typically cast their ballot in person on Election Day, so the BOE doubled its staff for this year's all-absentee primary.

Even with more staff working through the night, elections officials still say results will likely not be in before midnight.

Follow all southwest Ohio primary election results here.

WCPO will update this story.