OH-15: Stivers widens lead

First the good news::

The final vote tallies from Madison County were released this morning, and they continue to build the small lead that Republican congressional candidate Steve Stivers has over his Democratic rival, Mary Jo Kilroy.

With provisional and late-absentee ballots added to the total, Stivers picked up 373 votes from Madison County and Kilroy gained 258. That enlarges Stivers’ overall lead by 115 votes, giving him a 594-vote lead out of some 300,000 votes counted.

The bad news:

The race remains undecided. Stivers clings to his narrow lead with all votes from Republican-leaning Madison and Union counties now accounted for, but Democratic-leaning Franklin County still has thousands of provisional ballots that have yet to be added to the total. Kilroy’s aides predict that once that happens, the lead will move into her column.

More below on the legal issues involved.This race might very well come down to court battles:

An appeals court ruled today that a federal judge erred in determining that Franklin County’s controversial provisional ballots can be counted.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the issue involves state law – not federal – and sent the case back to the Ohio Supreme Court, where it started. The unanimous ruling was made by Judges Jeffrey S. Sutton, Cornelia G. Kennedy and David W. McKeague.

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said she would not appeal, but urged justices to “quickly affirm their previous clear guidance ‘to liberally construe election laws in favor of the right to vote,’ so as not to disenfranchise approximately 1,000 Ohio voters with a hyper-technical interpretation of Ohio law.”

So what is this hyper-technical issue? Voters name and signature:

At the heart of the legal debate are questions focusing on 1,000 of the 27,000 provisional ballots cast in Franklin County. The ballots were placed in envelopes without all the required signatures or markings showing which form of identification the voter used. Provisional ballot envelopes in Franklin County expressly stated that name and signature were “required.”

Liberals have now come to the point that you don’t even have to give your name properly in order to vote. That’s right. A ballot with clear instructions that require your name and signature is just too much.

So this is the cold hard truth: Democrats are going to do everything in their power to count every “possible” vote in Democratic Franklin County. I can’t say I am optimistic about the outcome. As the saying goes, “If it’s not close, they can’t cheat.” Alas, this is all too close.