LISBON - Columbiana County's longest-serving township trustee failed in his re-election bid after a recount confirmed his loss by one vote in the recent election.
Hanover Township Trustee Donald "Ferg" Wilson lost to John Zehentbauer 461-460 following Wednesday's recount by the county elections board, which featured a hand count of one of the three precincts in the township.
A trustee for more than 30 years, Wilson was behind 460-459 at the close of the polls on Nov. 5, which changed to 461-460 two weeks later after the official count that included provisional votes was performed. Provisionals are ballots cast election day that go uncounted until questions over voter registration or eligibility are resolved.
The race qualified for an automatic recount under Ohio law because the margin of defeat was less than one half of 1 percent. The recount law requires a hand count of a precinct representing at least 5 percent of the total votes cast, and board president Patty Colian selected the North Precinct at United Local High School.
The hand count results are compared for accuracy to the numbers reported by the ballot-counting machine. A total of 688 voters were counted by hand, and the vote total for Wilson and Zehentbauer matched those reported by the ballot-counting machine after the totals from all three precincts were run through again. The board then voted to certify the results.
"The system is tested and it works," said board director Adam Booth.
The board then agreed to meet at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 5 to conduct another recount, this one in the race for one of the three West Branch school board seats. Earl Trimmer defeated Glenda Sharp 1,418-1,397 for the third seat, but the margin was within the range requiring an automatic recount.
Since the school district also overlaps into Mahoning and Portage counties, the Ohio Secretary of State must call for a recount, which Booth anticipates will occur next week.