Election saw high turnout in Highland County


Nearly 44 percent of registered voters in Highland County took part in the General Election, either through early voting on by casting a ballot on Election Day, and there are still some races that could change when provisional ballots are considered.

Steve Witham, elections administrator for the Highland County Board of Elections, said Wednesday the result was very high for an “off year” election, when turnout is usually in the 23 or 24 percent range.

Driving the election for many voters was State Issue 3, the constitutional amendment which would have legalized marijuana through a monopoly for its commercial production and sale. The issue was resoundingly defeated across Ohio, as it was in Highland County, where voters killed it by a vote of 7,207 against it, 4,315 in favor, according to unofficial totals.

All told, 11,628 voters participated in the election, out of 26,538 registered voters in Highland County. Voters decided municipal, school board and township contests across the county, as well as some local issues and options.

In Hillsboro, turnout roughly mirrored the county, with 1,786 ballots cast out of 4,116 registered voters. Among the races spurring city voters to the polls was a high-profile mayoral contest between incumbent Republican Drew Hastings and Democratic challenger Pam Limes. Hastings won the race with more than 59 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results.

Witham said there are 140 provisional ballots from across the county yet to be tabulated. Provisional ballots are cast when there are issues at the polls about a registration or change of address.

Election officials investigate to make sure a voter is legally registered and did not cast a vote at two different locations, along with making sure the voter lives in the correct jurisdiction where they cast their ballot. The outcome of that investigation determines whether the votes will be counted.

Some contests separated by just a few votes could change in regard to the winners when the provisional votes are considered, along with a handful of absentee ballots that could still arrive and be counted if they were postmarked before Election Day. Witham said the official recount will be held beginning at 8 a.m. on Nov. 19.

Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.

By Gary Abernathy

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