WARREN - Staff at the Trumbull County Board of Elections will begin the task today of officially counting the ballots from the March 6 primary election.
State law provides some time after Election Day for mailed ballots to continue to trickle in to the elections board, plus time is given to review provisional ballots for correctness: Did the voter provide proper identification; does the voter's address fit in the precinct where he or she should have voted; or was the voter previously registered elsewhere in Ohio?
Friday was the deadline for mailed absentee ballots in the U.S. postmarked by March 5 to be delivered to the elections board. It also was the deadline for military and overseas ballots to be returned to be counted.
The 10 days gives enough time for the ballots to be returned ''because they can come from anywhere in the U.S.,'' elections board Director Kelly Pallante said.
On Friday, the board rejected 31 provisional ballots.
Fourteen were rejected because the voter was not registered; 13 because the voter voted at the wrong precinct; one because the voter was given the wrong ballot; one because the voter did not print his or her name; one person did not have valid identification; and one voter had two ballots in one envelope, so the board rejected both.
Provisional ballots are issued to people who move and don't update their address, who don't appear in the poll book or who don't have the correct identification. The ballots are held for 10 days to allow election board workers to verify the voter's eligibility
The board also rejected four absentee ballots: one because of no identification, another because of no signature on the identification envelope, and two because the ballots were not sealed in the identification envelope.
The official count must begin by Wednesday and be done by March 27, which is when the board plans to meet to certify the final, official results.