COLUMBUS, Ohio – In a state chided by visiting comedian Jon Stewart last week for its football obsession, vote counting is being sidelined during the much-anticipated Ohio State-Michigan college game.
The decision by county election officials not to open on Nov. 18 — the day of the storied gridiron rivalry — will delay an official result for another closely watched matchup: incumbent Republican Congresswoman Deborah Pryce vs. Democratic challenger Mary Jo Kilroy.
Pryce leads Kilroy by as many as 3,536 votes, depending on which tallies are used, but Kilroy has yet to concede because of 18,000 uncounted absentee and provisional ballots.
County Elections Director Matthew Damschroder grudgingly conceded that football factored into the one-day delay but said worker fatigue was a bigger issue.
"We've worked every Saturday since probably August," Damschroder said. "We're going to give our people a Saturday off."
The decision followed a week of broadcasts from Ohio State's campus by "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," the widely watched U.S. news paraody show, that mocked the state's football fanaticism. Correspondents reported from far-flung Ohio locations reeling from the weekend's high school football scores. At one point, Stewart likened the vicious Ohio State-Michigan rivalry to a Sunni-Shia feud.
Kilroy is hanging her hopes of victory on Ohio State students.
She campaigned heavily with the campus crowd — including appearing at a campus rally with 2004 presidential contender John Kerry — and believes many of the uncounted ballots were cast by Ohio State students who support her.