More than 100 Portage County voters were notified last week that their votes in the Nov. 3 election were not counted because they lacked the proper postmark.

Joan Craft of Streetsboro, whose ballot was voided because of a missing postmark, was surprised by the news. She said she hadn't gotten the letter from the county elections board as of early Dec. 23.

Craft said she believes she put the ballot in the mail the day before the election, expecting it would be OK. She said she's been voting absentee for some time now because she has trouble getting to the polls because of work.

"I don't think that should be fair," she said.

The Portage County Board of Elections mailed out letters to 118 voters the Monday before Christmas notifying them their ballots did not qualify.

State law requires that, to be counted, absentee ballots must be received within 10 days after the election and be postmarked with a date before election day.

While there have been issues with missing or unreadable postmarks in the past, it is the first time the Portage elections board has notified voters their ballots were not counted.

In the May 5 primary this year, 19 ballots were not counted because they did not have a postmark date stamp.

Portage isn't the only county to have the problem. Summit County, just west of Portage, had nearly 900 ballots from the Nov. 3 election invalidated because of it.

Summit election officials said the problem was partly because the post office closed its Akron sorting center and now all Summit County mail goes to Cleveland for sorting.

Postal officials said the size of envelope used to return completed ballots contributes to the problem. Larger envelopes do not go through sorting machines that stamp a postmark on each envelope, they said.

A survey of all 88 counties by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted showed that, of 7,244 invalidated absentee ballots, 1,523 had no postmark and 239 had an unreadable mark.

Nearly half of the invalidated ballot -- 3,449 -- were postmarked after election day.


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