GOSHEN — Provisional ballots could change the outcome of close races in Elkhart and Goshen, the county’s top election official said Wednesday, but those results may not be known for days.
An initial compilation showed there were 86 provisional ballots, Elkhart County Circuit Court Clerk Christopher Anderson said. Of those, 28 ballots could affect the results in Goshen and the other 58 could affect results in Elkhart.
“Digging down further will have to wait until the Election Board and provisional counters begin the provisional counting process,” Anderson said.
A provisional ballot is used to record a vote when there are questions about a voter’s eligibility that must be resolved before the vote can count.
The closest race in Goshen on Tuesday was for Common Council in District 3, where a single ballot separated the top two vote-getters, according to unofficial results tallied on election night.
Republican candidate Matt Schrock received 248 votes and Democratic candidate Jennifer Shell received 247 votes, the unofficial numbers show. Both gathered about 47 percent of the vote in a three-way race to succeed incumbent Mike Orgill. Rafael Correa ran as an independent candidate and won 33 votes.
Shell on Wednesday said she will decide after the results are finalized if a recount is necessary.
“I’ll be considering all my options at that point,” Shell said. “The voters of District 3 deserve to make sure every vote is counted and recorded properly.”
Shell said she was pleased with the quality and organization of the campaign she ran, especially for a first-time candidate. She said she believes she connected with voters, even earning votes from those who don’t normally vote for Democrats.
“I worked hard fundraising and going door-to-door over the last few months,” she said. “I used all the tools at my disposal in this race. And with a third-party candidate thrown in the mix, I had to work even harder.”
Shell said she would consider running for council again if she loses.
“I truly believe more women in office is important,” she said. “So I will take what I have learned here to help other women and people of color run.”
Although he knows his win is not secure, Schrock said he is enjoying the thought of being the victor.
“I’m not letting it go to my head,” he said of the unofficial results. “I’m going to wait until everything is official.”
He credited his success in the election to hard work by the candidate and his volunteers in the campaign.
While campaigning, Schrock said, he carried voter registration forms and helped nine people register who had never previously voted.
“If all nine of those voters voted for me, then that was worth getting some people signed up to vote,” he said.
“I’m not your basic politician and I’ve never run for office before,” Schrock said. “I ran for this because I had some issues that I know needed to be fixed on the east side of town and I thought if anything needed to be done, it’s time for someone to get on the inside and ask questions versus standing on the outside to ask questions. I want to be a voice for the unheard.”
In Elkhart, just 30 votes separated the third- and fourth-place finishers in a six-way race for the three at-large council seats.
In unofficial results, Republican Mary M. Olson led balloting with 3,013 votes, followed by Republican Kevin Bullard with 2,939 votes. Democrat Arvis L. Dawson came in third with 2,935 votes followed closely by fellow Democrat Alex Holtz with 2,905. Republican Brian Dickerson came in fifth with 2,725 votes and Democrat Thomas Butler was sixth with 2,490 votes.
The results of the election are scheduled to be finalized when the Election Board meets Nov. 15.