Actions Taken by Secretary LaRose
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Ohio’s 88 county board of elections are partnering with state and local health officials to promote a safe and healthy environment for Ohioans as they go to the polls next week. With the state’s support, county boards of elections are strengthening prevention efforts in order to give voters the best opportunity to have their voice heard, while keeping the risk of Coronavirus/COVID-19 transmission as low as possible.
To learn about how the state is addressing Coronavirus COVID-19 and how to keep yourself safe, visit: CoronaVirus.Ohio.gov
Early Preparation Began in February. Secretary LaRose has been promoting the ease of early voting in Ohio since early voting began on February 19th. The Secretary of State’s office began sharing preparation recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) with county boards of elections nearly two weeks ago. With support from the CDC and the Multi-State-Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC), our office was able to provide the information boards needed to make plans for virus prevention as election day approaches.
Election Day is different From Other Large Public Events or Gatherings. Unlike large gatherings like the Arnold Fitness Classic or high attendance conferences, voting on election day takes place in small communities of neighbors who are more likely than not to interact in other ways every day – whether at school, in church, in the grocery store, or elsewhere. Unlike other large public events or gatherings, election day does not reflect a situation where bigger crowds from geographically different areas come into one tight space, which could cause greater concerns about virus transmission.
Taking Action to Encourage Prevention. Over the past several weeks, Secretary LaRose and his team have had discussions and briefings with representatives from the CDC, U.S. and Ohio Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Governor DeWine, Ohio Department of Health (ODH), and Emergency Management Agency (EMA).
As a result, the following actions are being taken and recommendations being made:
Relocation of Polling Locations Where Senior Citizens are ResidentsAccording to public health officials, senior citizens are considered a high-risk population that is vulnerable to the Coronavirus/COVID-19. In response to ODH recommendations, Secretary LaRose has issued a directive to all county Boards of Elections to move voting locations which are currently located where senior citizens reside for the health and safety of those residents. Boards will work within their communities to find alternative voting sites. As locations are identified, our office will provide that information on our new website: VoteOhio.gov/CoronaFacts.
Counties will be working all this week to identify alternative locations. If voters have any questions, they should contact their county board of elections.
Ohioans should strongly consider voting by mail or early votingPer the CDC, one of the greatest forms of prevention is maintaining enough physical space from other people. To vote from home, visit VoteOhio.gov and request your absentee ballot from your county board of elections as soon as possible.
It’s very important to note that the official canvass of results is not finalized until the 21st day after the election (April 7, 2020). This allows for ballots submitted by mail to be postmarked by the day before election day and received through the tenth day after the election and still be reflected in the final, official results.
Curbside drop-off of absentee ballots at county boards on election dayMany Ohioans will not be requesting absentee ballots until this week and could be concerned about returning their ballot in time to be counted. Further, many Ohioans may simply feel better about returning their completed ballot in person. With that in mind, county boards will allow voters to drop off their absentee ballots at their county board of elections on election day from 6:30am to 7:30pm.
Just as is the case if a voter is in line at a voting location, as long as the voter is in line by 7:30 p.m., that voter will be able to cast their vote.
Following recommendations to keep voting machines cleanSecretary LaRose has worked with the private vendors of Ohio’s voting machines to provide the manufacturer guidelines for cleaning of voting machines to prevent disease spread.
Using health guidelines to protect Ohio’s poll workersThe CDC and Ohio Department of Health have provided our office with best practices that will promote the health and safety of the patriotic poll workers Ohio needs to run our elections. While we certainly don’t want poll workers to participate if they aren’t feeling well, we are working with our county boards to ensure a healthy voting environment.
Health professionals do not consider serving as a poll worker to be a health risk.
OUTCOME: Secretary LaRose has worked decisively and purposefully to do his part to protect Ohioans, all while balancing their right to a free and fair election. Our office will be working with county boards of elections to provide whatever support we can to ensure the election runs as smooth as possible. In Ohio, every voter’s voice will be heard on election day.