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November 19, 2010

Provisional votes seem to favor Bowling Green measures

Final totals to be certified November 22

Bowling Green--With 944 provisional ballots waiting to be counted, the odds seem to be strongly in favor of retaining both antidiscrimination ordinances that city council passed in 2009.

The November 2 general election saw voters upholding the addition of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and marital status to the city’s fair housing code by a slim margin, but rejecting the addition of the groups to employment and public accommodations protections.

The first, ordinance 7905, was decided on a 24-vote margin in favor of retention, while 7906 was rejected by 116 votes.

Those slim margins are why the provisional ballots are so important.

Kim Welter, who helped organize the campaign to retain the legislation, pointed out that the majority of the provisional ballots were cast by Bowling Green State University students.

“We also know that in the general election on November 2, we won the two students precincts 94 percent and 98 percent,” she said. “Based on that information, we are cautiously optimistic that we could win both ordinances.”

Voters who cast provisional ballots but did not have proper identification with them on Election Day had until the morning of November 19 to go to the Wood County Board of Elections to provide identification.

Most of the people who cast provisional ballots provided the necessary identification when they voted, but the Bowling Green Coalition for Justice, the group with whom Welter is working, were pressing their supporters to verify their information just in case.

“Ninety-eight percent of the students who came in didn’t need to,” Wood County deputy elections director Terry Burton told the Toledo Blade. “They did everything they were supposed to do,” on Election Day.

He said that the provisional voting, and it being done properly in such large numbers, was exceptional.

“We have not seen anything quite like this,” he noted.

Provisional ballots are given to those who are registered to vote in another county or precinct; it allows them to vote in the precinct in which they currently reside. This is often an issue for college students, members of the military and others who have moved since the previous Election Day. After the provisional ballots are cast, however, elections workers must verify that the voters are actually registered to vote.

The vote tally will be certified on Monday, November 22.

“At least they say they will certify the election at that point,” Welter said. “That doesn’t mean we won’t be in recount territory.”

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