WASHINGTON — Republican Troy Balderson further expanded his slim lead after all votes were counted in Delaware and Muskingum counties, and Democrat Danny O’Connor is not close enough yet to force a recount in the hotly contested Aug.  7 special election to finish out the term of Rep. Pat Tiberi.

Balderson, a Zanesville Republican who serves in the state Senate, held a narrow lead over the Franklin County recorder on election night, but the seven counties in the 12th Congressional District were still counting provisional and absentee ballots early this week. Two, Delaware and Muskingum, now have certified their final totals.

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>>Read more: 12th Congressional District: O’Connor gains 190 votes on Balderson

In Delaware County, Balderson gained 826 votes since Election Day, finishing with 32,576 votes, nearly 54 percent, while O’Connor ended with 27,548, a gain of 674 votes. That gave Balderson a 152-vote net gain in the county. Green Party candidate Joe Manchik finished with 240 votes.

In Muskingum County, Balderson officially got 7,927 votes while O’Connor received 3,900 votes, giving Balderson a net 95-vote gain over O'Connor since Election Day, while winning his home county 66 percent to 33 percent.

The counts mean Balderson's lead has extended to 1,781 votes with five counties remaining, four of which lean Republican. The math makes it nearly impossible for O'Connor to make up that difference, though he gets an automatic recount if the final total is within 0.5 percent.

>>Read more: Capitol Insider | 12th Congressional District: Why does Danny O’Connor persist?

O'Connor's best chance to gain ground is in Franklin County, where there were 122 absentee ballots and up to 1,349 provisional ballots to be counted Friday afternoon.

Richland County will hold its final count Tuesday; Morrow County will finalize on Wednesday, and Marion County will certify Thursday. Licking County will certify its ballots at 10 a.m. Friday, after voting Monday to accept 529 provisional ballots and reject 77.

Counties have until Friday to certify their votes.

The candidates will face each other again in November for the two-year term.

Dispatch Reporter Jim Siegel contributed to this story.