4

On 2/17/2017, while advocating Voter ID Laws for his state, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted claimed:

...in Ohio we have had 112 elections decided by one vote or tied in the last three years,

Is this true? If true:

  1. Is 112 a large number of ties and near misses relative to other states, and other three year periods?
  2. If it's possible to generalize, what sort of elections were these? (I.e. average number of votes cast; electronic voting was/wasn't used; were primarily federal, state, county, municipality, township, et al elections; representative or direct elections; etc.)
  3. Is there a dated listing of these 112 Ohioan ties and near misses online somewhere?
  • 3
    Might be better suited on Skeptics. That being said, I'm not able to find via quick googling any such record of elections within one vote besides what Husted said. – David Grinberg Mar 13 '17 at 2:08
  • 1
    I'd add a "4. And does it even matter in the context of in-person voter fraud?" – user1530 Mar 13 '17 at 2:27
  • 1
    @blip, This Q narrowly regards only the accuracy of one of Secretary Husted's claims. It's not about this particular claim's lack of relevance for that which Husted advocates. – agc Mar 13 '17 at 3:34
  • While this is definitely on-topic here, I think @DavidGrinberg is right that you'll probably get better answers (or at least be more likely to get a good answer) on Skeptics, where it would also be on-topic. – Bobson Mar 13 '17 at 3:35
  • @agc I understand. And that's valid. But I also feel that attempting to validate statements tends to also validate intent, so I'm careful to not separate them too much. – user1530 Mar 13 '17 at 3:39
1

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said:

in Ohio we have had 112 elections decided by one vote or tied in the last three years

So he's talking about elections in the last three years. At the time that he said this, the most recent election was November 8th, 2016.

In a different press release, they publish a link to a full listing of elections with 1 vote or tied (XLS). This also had a different wording for the 112 elections:

In the past eight statewide elections...112 races and issues were decided by one vote or tied. In 2016 alone, 14 local races were decided by one vote or tied.

The "eight statewide elections" seems to refer to cycles that included statewide elections. So if a local issue were decided on a different day, it wouldn't be included. But local races and issues that share with statewide elections are. Looking at the spreadsheet, these eight elections were

  • 2016 General
  • August 2016 Special
  • 2016 Primary
  • 2015 General
  • 2015 Primary
  • 2014 General
  • 2014 Primary
  • 2013 General

Federal and state elections occur in even years (2016 and 2014).

The issues and candidates were overwhelmingly local (municipalities and school boards). Thirty-four issues (referendums) and seventy-eight candidates.

Q FM 96 said:

After more than 5 ½ million votes were cast and counted in the Nov. 8 general election, three local issues in Ohio were decided by a single vote or tied, according to data released Sunday by the state’s top elections official.

"[L]ocal issues" are referendums on specific points of policy, e.g. tax increases. Framed by local politicians, they are a direct, democratic review of potential policy changes.

  • 1
    Great find. Do you know what exactly "Dem. Central Comm" and "Rep Central Comm" are and who is allowed to vote for it? And some numbers would be nice. Most of these seem to be rather small issues (eg only 289 people voted on Issue 59, probably less than 100 voted on Dem. Central Comm in Athens 4-2). Most of these also seem rather inconsequential. AKRON 4-J for example is about which exact permit is required to sell wine in a specific format. – tim Mar 13 '17 at 18:32
  • It seems that the list may not have been created by the secretary. At least the 2013 data seems to be from the Ohio Voter Integrity Project (although it is possible that the secretary verified it). The project calls itself non-partisan but is related to True the Vote, which is not. – tim Mar 13 '17 at 18:35
  • 1
    These rather sketchy spreadsheets show Husted used the plural noun "elections" in the looser sense, referring to public voting for persons and propositions, such as a tied vote vaguely labeled "Local Liquor" in district 4-J of Akron City. – agc Mar 14 '17 at 18:11
1

I've converted and reformatted the 20161216.xlsx spreadsheet cited in Brythan's answer to a more portable CSV format, named 20161216.csv. The reformatting consisted of adding another field, "Election", correcting some typos, (mispellings of Committee, odd spacings), and made some field item synonyms more consistent. These changes enable using Linux utils like datamash and csvtool for easily replicated views.

Of the 112 ties and one-vote differences:

  • 76 are candidates comprising:

    • 24 Committee positions (23 of them partisan)
    • 23 Township Trustees
    • 18 Council members (for city wards and villages)
    • 6 Mayors (5 villages, 1 city)
    • 5 School Board seats
  • the remaining 36 are issues comprising:

    • 20 Tax levies (4 for expenses, 3 for roads, 3 for cemeteries, 1 for Fire & EMS, 9 reasons not noted in the spreadsheet)
    • 13 Local Options (at least 6 on liquor, 1 on Sunday Sales, several not plainly noted)
    • 3 Bonds (a community service building, gas aggregation, and a pool)

None of the votes address matters of even statewide importance.


Of the 112 elections, 43 were ties, and 69 differed by one vote.

How many votes on average were cast? Unknown, since the spreadsheet doesn't provide vote counts. I've located one of the elections mentioned in the spreadsheet online, with 225 votes cast:

SUMMARY REPT-GROUP DETAIL                          Summit County, Ohio                                *Amended Official Results
                                                   Board of Elections
                                                   11/03/15 General Election
Run Date:12/28/15 11:46 AM

                                        TOTAL VOTES     %        ABSENTEE          POLL    TIMELY ABS          PROV

Issue 25 - Akron 3-G - Proposed Local Option
Beer, Wine, Mixed Bev and Spirit. Liq., Copley Mini Mart
(Vote for not more than )  1
    (WITH 1 OF 1 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 NO.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .        113   50.22            21            90             0             2
 YES  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .        112   49.78            16            92             1             3

At the polls, (including provisional ballots), it won 95 YESes to 92 NOs. But the absentee ballots turned it the other way by one vote.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.