STRUTHERS, Ohio (WKBN) – The race for mayor in Struthers — one that came down to just 72 votes separating the two leading candidates — could be changed as a result of uncounted votes that were discovered at the Board of Elections on Wednesday.
Current Struthers Mayor Terry Stocker said he could not sleep last night after challenger Danny Thomas, Jr. was declared the new mayor-elect. Something didn’t feel right, he said.
“We couldn’t figure out where — they said we were down 72, that was like 160 vote swing — and we couldn’t figure out where that came from,” he said.
Stocker took his concerns to the Mahoning County Board of Elections on Wednesday morning. That is when elections officials shared with him that they found an unopened box of ballots from Struthers, still with the security seal. The votes were never counted with Tuesday’s total.
Mark Munroe, chairman of the Mahoning County Board of Elections, said he does not believe the box was intentionally misplaced.
“On election night, we have to hire 50 or 60 people part-time who don’t do this all the time. They come in to give us a hand, and sometimes, they are just eager to help,” he said. “It was just a case where a box came in, and it was marked, and it just got placed on the wrong cart and got locked in the vault.”
Munroe said, by law, the ballots can’t be counted until 10 days after election day.
“At that point, we will open up those provisional ballots and examine the 147-or-so absentee ballots, and at that point, we will be able to declare an official winner of the Struthers race,” he said.
The votes could have a major impact on the race, because Thomas defeated Stocker by just two percentage points. Those 147 ballots, along with 50 uncounted provisional votes, could change that outcome.
“If Terry gets more than 72 valid votes, he will likely be declared the winner in that race,” Munroe said.
For now, both men will have to wait and see.