So if we believe the hype, the outcome in presidential election will turn on Ohio, and Ohio will be very close.
According to the Cincinnati Inquirer, Ohio mailed out applications for absentee ballots to all of the nearly seven million registered voters in the state. Of those who applied for an absentee ballot, about 800,000 are still out. Many of those 800,000 absentee ballots will still arrive on time to be counted. Of course, we don’t know how many. Some of those who received those absentee ballots will simply not vote. That’s not a problem.
Some of those who asked for and received absentee ballots will not fill them out but will turn up at the polling places to vote on Nov. 6. That’s also legal. But, by law, the state has to set those ballots aside on Election Day and treat them as “provisional ballots,” until it can confirm that the same people hadn’t already voted by absentee ballot.
By Ohio law, provisional ballots cannot be counted before Nov. 17. By now, you’ve figured out the scenario but I’ll just make explicit. If the number of provisional ballots in Ohio is larger than the margin of victory in Ohio, and if Ohio’s 18 electoral votes will determine the outcome of the election, we won’t have a result until at least Nov. 17.
This post was updated to clarify the numbers. To further clarify, Ohio’s secretary of state sent absentee ballot applications to all Ohio registered voters. Only a portion of those applications were returned and those who returned them received absentee ballots. A portion of those absentee ballots have been received. 800,000 is roughly the number ballots that were sent out, minus the number that have already been mailed back in.