With all the confusion surrounding the changing vote tally for Issue 116, the bond issue for the Strongsville schools, one thing is certain:
Provisional ballots will decide the outcome.
There are a total of 698 provisional ballots waiting to be counted in Strongsville, according to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.
Unofficial results posted on the board's website on Thursday still show Issue 116 ahead by 28 votes -- 11,222 to 11,194.
But some are saying that doesn't include the 39 votes cast by the lone Lorain County precinct in the Strongsville district, where 32 votes went against he issue and only 7 were in favor.
That would shrink the margin to three votes.
And still uncounted are the 31 absentee ballots that have come in, so far, after Election Day.
"I've never seen anything like this," School Board President David Frazee said. "Everything truly is going to rest on those provisional ballots."
The Provisional Factor
Mike West, spokesman for the Board of Elections, said county officials have 10 days following the election to review the provisional votes -- ballots cast at the polls Tuesday but set aside because of questions about the voters' eligibility -- and reject the ones that will not be counted.
After that 10-day period, the provisionals will be tallied, West said.
They will obviously decide the outcome of the Strongsville schools' $81 million bond issue, which would fund construction of a new middle school and pay for significant improvements to Strongsville High School and repairs to elementary schools.
Frazee said he is "cautiously, hopefully optimistic" about those uncounted ballots.
"My gut tells me those provisionals are going to be more positive than negative," he said.
Regardless, the district will proceed as if Issue 116 has passed. Frazee said officials will continue to meet with an architect on the design of a new middle school.
"W're going to keep moving forward as if it's a go," he said. "We don't want to lose any ground here."
The Confusion Over Changing Numbers
Still unexplained is why the figures for Issue 116 changed early Nov. 7.
When the Board of Elections posted results with 36 of 36 precincts counted, the issue was behind by 83 votes -- 11,006 against to 10,923 in favor.
Another posting at 2:02 a.m. showed another 487 votes added to the tally and the issue slightly ahead.
West told Strongsville Patch Wednesday he could not explain the change, other than possible human error.
Frazee also tried to get an answer.
"The Board of Elections could not explain where those votes came from," he said.
Absentee ballots could still make an impact, too. According to the Board of Elections, there were 776 absentee ballots requested in Strongsville that have not yet been returned.
Those ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 5 and reach the Board of Elections within 10 days of the election.
The day after the election, 31 came in.