COLUMBUS, (WCMH) – Three months away from the General Election, Ohio leaders are assuring voters they’ll be able to safely and securely cast their ballots.
“As much as life has changed and so much of our lives look different right now, they can expect an election experience that is very close to normal,” said Secretary of State Frank LaRose.
LaRose explained the state is planning to offer the same voting options you would normally see, including absentee, early in-person and Election Day in-person voting. In Franklin County, the Board of Elections estimates more than half of registered voters will be choosing absentee voting.
“It’s a little bit more labor-intensive to get those processed and get those counted on election night,” said Aaron Sellers, the public information officer for the Franklin County Board of Elections.
The Board of Elections encourages voters who choose to vote by mail to do so early to prevent a backlog or delayed results. The state will mail absentee ballot request forms to every registered voter around Labor Day.
LaRose said, “Ohioans trust and embrace vote by mail and absentee balloting in Ohio. I believe this year, we’re going to see the highest percentage of absentee voting we’ve ever seen.”
He hopes Ohio lawmakers will act quickly on several pieces of legislation to streamline the vote by mail process. A provision of SB 191 would allow voters to request a ballot online. Part of HB 680 would expand the application request deadline to seven days prior to an election.
“It encourages procrastination and it creates an unrealistic expectation among voters and can lead to disenfranchisement. That’s what’s so bad about it,” LaRose said of the current system.
The state is providing funding from the CARES Act for counties to build out their infrastructure, collect more personal protective equipment (PPE) and recruit more poll workers.
Franklin County anticipates a poll worker shortage, with many of its current seasonal help in a high-risk age group. The county needs 5,000 people to man 330 polls and is surveying former workers to gauge how many will return for the General Election.
“If somebody’s been interested in becoming a poll worker and isn’t apprehensive about doing it this cycle, now is the time. We simply can’t pull off the elections that we do without our poll workers,” Sellers said.
Sellers explained those concerned about interacting with others can also help with the cleaning and sanitation needed on and before Election Day.
The Secretary of State’s office is using several initiatives to recruit more poll workers. One encourages high school students to sign-up. As another incentive, the Ohio Supreme Court issued a ruling to provide attorneys with Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit for working the polls.
“It’s a call to duty,” LaRose said. “We need a new generation of poll workers in Ohio.”
LaRose dismissed concerns about mail-in voting being less secure as unfounded. He also addressed rumors about possible election delays.
“As far as any idea of moving the election — absolutely terrible idea. There should be no consideration of that. Election Day is November 3rd. That’s when Americans and Ohioans expect it to happen. That will happen and we’re going to be ready for it in Ohio,” he said.
Voters must register by October 5th to be eligible to vote in the General Election. Early in-person and absentee voting begins on October 6th.
“There really is no good excuse for skipping the election,” LaRose said. “You should make your voice heard.”
For more information about voter registration, voting and elections, click here.