COLUMBUS – In collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and the Ohio Department of Health, Secretary of State LaRose issued the Ohio Voting Safety Plan to our state’s 88 county boards of elections. The 48-point plan sets forth requirements for boards of elections, as well as recommendations for voters, for how to run a safe and healthy election this fall.
While many state legislatures and policy makers are grappling with finding ways to provide the multiple voting options recommended by the CDC, Ohio finds itself in the fortunate position of needing only small changes to improve the already safe, secure, and accessible elections system that we have in place. Ohio has long offered three different ways to vote: by mail; early in-person during the four weeks preceding Election Day, including evenings and weekends; and in-person on Election Day.
Additionally, boards of elections provide curbside voting and have a secure drop box at every board of elections for voters who do not want to enter the board office or a polling location. Further, the Secretary of State’s Office required boards of elections to move polling locations out of facilities that serve vulnerable populations. Therefore, Ohio already meets the CDC’s lower risk election polling location recommendations.
The Ohio Voting Safety Plan sets in place guidance that will enhance the ability of county boards of elections to keep their voters and election officials safe. The plan sets in place 48 points that include the following:
- Routine cleaning of voting machines and e-pollbooks
- Mask requirements and regular hand washing for all poll workers
- Social distancing recommendations
- Making curbside voting available
All voters will be encouraged to wear a mask, just as the vast majority of Ohioans do at the grocery store or a restaurant. It’s important to note that while the Secretary of State may put requirements in place for election officials, no one can or should be able to prevent electors from casting their ballot, even if the elector chooses not to follow the recommendations in place to protect poll workers and other voters. In addition to opportunities to vote early by mail and early in-person, voters choosing to cast their ballot on election day will have the option to vote curbside if they are physically unable to enter a polling location.