Unofficial count shows Portage Co. Library District levy passing by 66 votes, out of 20,000 votes cast

Issue likely headed to automatic recount
Portage Library District
Posted at 5:50 PM, Nov 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-03 18:53:41-04

STREETSBORO, Ohio — With the unofficial results in, the Portage County District Library levy could pass for the first time in 12 attempts on the ballot, dating back to 1974.

Around 20,000 votes were cast between Portage County voters, as well as one precinct in Summit County tied to the Portage County school district.

In the total unofficial results submitted Tuesday night, 9,912 voters supported the levy while 9,846 voted against the measure – a difference of 66 votes.

“It's an entire gamechanger for us,” library director Jon Harris said. “Walking into today, we were the third-worst funded library in the state.”

The ballot issue called for a 1 mill, 10-year levy to provide a stable base of funding for the library’s operating expenses. Harris told News 5 that right now, the library district relies on state funding alone to operate and the measure would bring in about $3 million a year, essentially doubling their budget.

“What it means is we can restore hours at all our branches that got cut back in 2009,” Harris said. “It means we can bring back bookmobile service to areas that don’t have a branch, and that we can look at putting a branch in the southern part of the county.”

Portage County Board of Elections Director Faith Lyon and her team still must sort through about 400 absentee or provisional ballots in the county before the results are formally certified later this month.

“We don’t normally have something of this nature this close right now,” she said. “It’s actually a little uncommon because it is such a large race.”

In Ohio, Lyon said it’s one of several races that could trigger an automatic recount, which is triggered when a district, county or municipal race sees a margin less than half of one percent.

More close races this election?

Lyon told News 5 she didn’t notice an increase in races that could trigger an automatic recount in her county, however other election leaders saw quite the shift compared to years past.

In Lake County, election officials told News 5 they’re eyeing three races for an automatic recount, where they normally see maybe one in a given election.

In Medina County, one Brunswick city council race is separated by a single vote out of more than a thousand cast.

Medina elections 1
One of several election results from Tuesday that could trigger an automatic recount.

However, Mike West at Cuyahoga County’s Board of Elections warns voters from presuming these unofficial results will trigger immediate recounts.

“Right now, if there’s close races, it may not be as close as they appear,” he said. “There are thousands of votes by mail ballots yet to come in and thousands of provisional ballots. So it’s not over until it’s over.”

While he waits for the election results to be certified, Harris looks forward to the next chapter at the Portage County Library District.

“The one thing to take away is every single vote matters,” he said.

To view other election results throughout Northeast Ohio, click here.