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According to the Ohio Secretary of State's web site, the current totals in the race for Ohio District 15's seat in the U.S. House of Representatives are as follows:

Franklin County
Mary Jo Kilroy:  87,661 (51.43%)
Deborah Pryce:  82,771 (48.57%)
Total:  170,432
Margin:  Kilroy by 4,890

Madison and Union Counties
Kilroy:  10,439 (35.62%)
Pryce:  18,865 (64.38%)
Total:  29,304
Margin:  Pryce by 8,426

District 15
Kilroy:  98,100 (49.11%)
Pryce:  101,636 (50.89%)
Total:  199,736
Margin:  Pryce by 3,536

In the interest of simplicity, Madison and Union Counties will be treated as a unit.  Both are rural/suburban counties west of Columbus, and Pryce carried the two counties by similar margins (62.14% in Madison, 66.16% in Union).  The 19 votes cast for write-in candidates were disregarded.

FWIW, Franklin County is divided among three different congressional districts.  Even though a majority (166,968 of 328,802, 50.78%) of Franklin County voters chose the Democratic candidate, at last two of the three districts will be represented by Republicans.  In District 7, Democrat William Conner took 54.00% of the Franklin County vote, but Republican Dave Hobson took 62.76% of the vote in the remaining counties, which stretch from Springfield to Lancaster.  In District 12, Bob Shamansky took 49.40% of the Franklin County vote and 31.88% of the vote in Delaware and western Licking Counties.  (I will refrain from mentioning the 58-42 licking that Republican Pat Tiberi gave Shamansky.)  Isn't gerrymandering wonderful?  The Ohio General Assembly was unable to come up with a meaningful redistricting reform measure this year, even though there is sentiment for it on both sides after Reform Ohio Now brought the issue to public consciousness in 2005.  This sentiment should be even greater now, as the Democrats control three of five seats on the apportionment panel and have gained one seat in the state Senate and eight seats in the state House.

The next round of redistricting will take place in 2011, after the 2010 census data are available and after the next round of statewide elections.  But I digress.

Back to the matter at hand.  First, the absentee ballots must be apportioned.  There is no reason to believe that absentees behave much differently from the general population, so the absentee ballots will be apportioned in the same proportions as the current totals.  The provisional ballots from Madison and Union Counties will also be apportioned proportionally to the current totals.  This is defensible because neither county contains a university or urban area.

The estimated distribution of the absentee and provisional (Madison and Union only) votes is as follows:

Franklin County
Kilroy:  4,700 (51.44%)
Pryce:  4,437 (48.56%)
Total:  9,137

Madison and Union Counties
Kilroy:  327 (35.62%)
Pryce:  591 (64.38%)
Total:  918

The new grand totals are as follows:

District 15
Kilroy:  103,127 (49.16%)
Pryce:  106,664 (50.84%)
Total:  209,791
Margin:  Pryce by 3,537

At this point, Pryce's margin has increased by one vote.

Now, the Franklin County provisional ballots must be considered.  There are 9,469 in precincts contained entirely in District 15, and an additional 878 in precincts partially within District 15.  Assume that half of those ballots belong in District 15.  [The line between Districts 15 and 12 runs through mostly Democratic-leaning neighborhoods, including the working-class South Side, yuppie German Village and Old Town East, the very trendy (and gay) Short North, the southeastern edge of the Ohio State University student ghetto, and the heavily black East Side.  Coincidence?  I think not.]  So, there are 9,908 provisional ballots in play.

The following table presents the proportion of the provisional ballots Kilroy would have to win to erase Pryce's lead given the percentage of ballots ruled valid.  For example, if 75% (7,431 of 9,908) of the ballots are valid, Kilroy would need 5,484 of them (73.80%) to draw even.  Two years ago, 85% of Franklin County's provisional ballots were ruled valid and were added to the totals.  If a similar percentage were ruled valid this year, Kilroy would need 71% of the provisional vote to draw even.

100% valid:  Kilroy would need 67.85%
95% valid:  Kilroy would need 68.79%
90% valid:  Kilroy would need 69.83%
85% valid:  Kilroy would need 71.00%
80% valid:  Kilroy would need 72.31%
75% valid:  Kilroy would need 73.80%
70% valid:  Kilroy would need 75.50%
65% valid:  Kilroy would need 77.46%
60% valid:  Kilroy would need 79.75%
55% valid:  Kilroy would need 82.45%
50% valid:  Kilroy would need 85.70%
45% valid:  Kilroy would need 89.66%
40% valid:  Kilroy would need 94.62%

Granted, not all of the Franklin County provisional ballots were cast by OSU students, but it has been estimated that a third of all OSU students voted provisionally.

In other words, this one will go down to the wire.

The remaining ballots will be counted on Sunday, November 19.  State law allows the count to begin a day earlier, but that is the day of the Ohio State - Michigan football game.  [This is Columbus, after all.  We have our priorities.]  The count will be complete by November 21, a week before the state deadline.  In the meantime, rules for counting provisional ballots are still being negotiated.

Originally posted to KTinOhio on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 06:58 PM PST.

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