Election results too unofficial to make those calls

Scott Halasz

Strange times we live in these days.

Instead of talking about graduations, homeruns, and trips to Kings Island, we are talking about masks, social distancing, and toilet paper.

Yes, the coronavirus is changing how we conduct our every day lives. It’s changing how we at the Xenia Daily Gazette and Fairborn Daily Herald are covering news (more on that in a bit), and as we all know, COVID-19 changed the way we voted in the primary election. Postponed in March, the election became a mail-only event with unofficial results being released Tuesday night.

But we won’t know who really won until May 19. That’s when the Greene County Board of Elections will certify the official count.

Between now and then, anything can happen, as according to Llyn McCoy, the Board of Elections director, there are more than 9,100 ballots still out there, mostly absentee. Any ballot that was postmarked by April 27 and received by the board by May 8 will be counted.

How much will the unofficial results change? I have no way of knowing. But there are some close races and some issues that were not passed or defeated by large margins.

Back to the coverage issue.

Normally my colleagues and I spend the day after the election calling the winners, city managers, fire chiefs, and school superintendents to get comments about the outcome. But after talking about it Wednesday morning, we decided that it’s too iffy.

So in today’s paper you won’t see pages of election coverage. You can turn to page one and read about the levies that were unofficially passed and defeated, but that’s as far as we will go for now.

I’ve been through this before. Or as they say in Texas, “This ain’t my first rodeo.”

Back in the mid-1990s as a reporter at the then-daily Beavercreek News-Current, we gathered in the newsroom to cover election night. There was a big school board election and we saw the results, called the winners and got quotes.

Then we discovered that some Riverside residents in Montgomery County were in the Beavercreek school district and when those few votes were added in, one of the winners became a loser. Glad I didn’t have to make that phone call.

So to prevent that mistake from happening again, we are just going to wait.

Sounds like a cop out, I know.

However, in reality this is simply a case of wanting to be accurate and not first. If it were a few hundred ballots, or even a couple thousand, I would say let’s move forward.

But we are dealing with more than 9,000 votes still being out there.

Were they all returned and will they all be received in time? Not likely.

But we waited more than a month to get unofficial results. What’s a couple more weeks in order to get it right?


Scott Halasz

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4057.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4057.