Independent Keith Gaskin still leads incumbent mayor Robert Smith, a Democrat, by 40 votes after election officials processed 158 affidavit and 31 curbside ballots on Thursday.
Gaskin has garnered 2,907 votes to Smith’s 2,867, a narrower margin than his 66-vote lead on election night. There are still up to 53 outstanding mail-in absentee ballots. In order for those to count, they must be postmarked by June 8 and arrive to the city registrar’s office no later than Tuesday.
Even if all 53 are returned and are valid, Gaskin would only need seven of those to secure the win.
“We’ll just have to wait and see until the election is certified, but I feel confident my lead will hold and I’ll be the next mayor of Columbus,” Gaskin told The Dispatch on Thursday evening. “We had a very positive message that I thought was resonating throughout the city. I’m not a politician. I want to be a public servant, and I think people believed me when I said that.”
Gaskin added he looks forward to working with Smith during the transition.
“I appreciate the mayor’s long tenure with the city and what he was able to accomplish,” he said.
Smith could not be reached for comment by the time of this posting.
Affidavits are provisional ballots potential voters can cast if there is an issue verifying their registry, whether they are voting at the correct precinct or if they didn’t bring valid ID. On Thursday, election officials accepted 91 affidavits and rejected 61. Most of those rejected were due to voters casting ballots at the wrong precinct.
Another six affidavits were placed on hold because they are among those who requested mail-in absentee ballots that haven’t been returned. If the absentee ballot is returned, that vote will count. Otherwise, the affidavit will.
Curbside votes were all counted. They were cast on election day by voters who, for some reason, could not go into the precinct and needed a poll worker’s assistance to cast their ballots from their vehicles or outside.
Zack Plair is the managing editor for The Dispatch.