WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – If you went to the Board of Elections and took part in early voting, you probably noticed some volunteers who weren’t helping candidates. They were ready to help you.

Those volunteers will be at the polls on Election Day as well. They are with the Election Protection Coalition. They don’t favor any side. They just want to make sure everyone gets to vote.

Liz Nalepa is in charge of the volunteers in Mahoning and Trumbull Counties.

“I view it as critically important. Our goal is to make sure everyone who wants to case a ballot gets to cast a ballot that will be counted,” Nalepa said.

The volunteers are there to help if voters seem upset or confused, whether it be about an ID that’s required to vote or voting machines that are not working and causing long lines.

The volunteers can’t go inside, since they are not poll observers, but there is plenty to watch for outside. One of the most important things is voter intimidation.

“It’s people attempting to inappropriately and illegally prevent people from voting,” Nalepa said.

There were no issues during early voting in Mahoning County, and Nalepa said there were only a couple of minor ones in Trumbull County, but the group’s volunteers have been active around Columbus in Franklin County.

“There have been anti-abortion protesters intimidating people in line, getting in voters’ faces with graphic images and really trying to prevent people from voting,” Nalepa said.

Tuesday, the group has a list of 30 polling places where it will concentrate including:

  • Campbell, and Struthers with large Spanish speaking populations
  • South and west side of Warren
  • South and east sides of Youngstown, anticipating voters might need some help.

“If you think you are in the right location and you should be given a regular ballot, but you are not, you should call it in to 866-OUR-VOTE.

The Election Protection Coalition has been around since the 1960s.

Voters with questions or problems can call:

  • Election Protection Coalition – English: 866-OUR-VOTE
  • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Spanish/English: 888-VE-Y-VOTA
  • NALEO Educational Fund Arabic/English: 844-YALLA-US
  • Arab American Institute (AAI) Asian Languages/English: 888-API-VOTE, APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC)

You can also report any incidents to:

  • Ohio Secretary of State at (614) 466-2585 election@OhioSoS.gov
  • U.S. Dept. of Justice 800-253-3931 voting.section@usdoj.gov
  • Pennsylvania 877-VOTESPA

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