By AARON KRAUSE
Reflector Staff Writer
Votes to determine the replacement for Gov. William Allen’s statue have been pouring into the Ohio Historical Society. Thomas Edison is still in the running.
The voting process ended Saturday, and the manual counting process has begun.
“It’s a Herculean effort, let me tell you,” Ohio Historical Society Communications Manager Kim Schuette said. “We have a lot of volunteers and staff to ensure that we have a correct vote.”
Society volunteers will count the votes by hand. They will separate votes into categories to make for a more orderly process and enter votes in an Excel sheet to ensure further accuracy, Schuette said.
“It’s been a very exciting process and I hope what people learn from this is a lot more about Ohio history,” she said.
The candidates, in addition to Milan favorite son Thomas Edison, are James Mitchell Ashley, Ulysses S. Grant, Jesse C. Owens, William M. McCulloch, Judith A. Resnik, Albert B. Sabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Taylor Upton and Wilbur and Orville Wright.
Schuette said the state historical society should have the results by the end of this month. They will be forwarded to the National Statuary Collection Committee. So far, the society has collected about 25,000 votes. Polling places have until Friday to get all votes to the society.
The Ohio General Assembly’s National Statuary Committee has been charged with finding a replacement for Allen’s statue. Lawmakers have said the former Ohio governor’s pro-slavery views make him a bad representation of Ohio.
Each state is represented in Statuary Hall in Washington D.C. by statues of two famous individuals from the state. Ohio is currently represented by Allen and President James Garfield.
The committee has narrowed the field from more than 90 candidates to 10 great Ohioans. To narrow the group, lawmakers voted according to a point system, with each individual’s top choice receiving 10 points, the second choice 9 points and so on. Edison received 46 points, not far ahead of abolitionist and author Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 40 points.
Committee members have said Ohioans’ votes will be the most important factor in determining which candidate they will recommend to the Ohio General Assembly.