Despite the fact that poll workers are still in short supply, Highland County Board of Elections Deputy Director Heather Loudin told The Times-Gazette Tuesday the local office is ready to tackle Election Day on Nov. 3.
“We are in need of poll workers,” she said, “and they can contact our office, and they’ll have to take some training to get familiar with our new equipment.”
During their meeting Tuesday morning, she said that two resolutions were certified for the upcoming November ballot, one being for the Highland County Health Department and the other for a Penn Township cemetery levy.
Every effort is made to place poll workers in the precincts where they reside, and Loudin said if a worker said they’re willing to go other places, they would be sent to wherever they are needed.
“We’re really in desperate need because some of our workers are older and with the pandemic and things that are going on, they may have some compromising health issues which may make them feel uncomfortable in working with the public all day,” she said.
She pointed out that contrary to the popular belief that the job was voluntary, poll workers are paid for their training and for their work on Election Day, “although not near what they should for as long a day as it is.”
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said that staffing the polls is a big challenge because 35,000 poll workers are needed across the Buckeye State.
For Highland County, Loudin said that number had been reduced from 124 down to 62.
“Technically, we like to have four precinct election officials per precinct and we have 31 precincts for a total of 124,” she said. “But our board voted, and it was passed in legislation, that we could drop down to two per precinct for a total of 62, and for balance, they’d have to be a Democrat and a Republican.”
LaRose’s office said that those interested in becoming poll workers can learn more about the job by going to www.voteohio.org/defenddemocracy, or can call their local board of elections office.
One other thing Loudin wanted to address was lingering confusion regarding absentee ballots.
“People think we don’t count them unless we need them,” she said, “but actually, absentee ballots are the very first ones that get counted on Election Night.”
She said the secretary of state would be mailing out absentee ballot applications to every registered voter in the state the first two weeks of September.
Voters who desire to vote absentee can then fill out the application and return it either by mail, physically take it to the board of elections office or deposit it at the board of elections drop box, which Loudin said is installed in front of the BMV office at the Hi-Tech Center and is under video surveillance 24-hours a day.
The last day for voter registration is Monday, Oct. 5. Loudin said the board of elections office will be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. that day to accommodate those who need to register, or make name and address changes.
“Early voting will begin here in our office the next day, Tuesday, Oct. 6,” she said.
The Highland County Board of Elections can be reached by phone at 937-393-9961 or online at www.boe.ohio.gov/highland.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.