COLUMBUS – Even ahead of the onset of COVID-19, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose was focused on recruiting new poll workers for the 2020 elections. Beginning with a Working Group of select leaders from county boards of elections, plans were put in place early in 2019 to provide innovative and intensive efforts to ensure polling locations were fully staffed on election day. With the dangers of COVID-19, these efforts became exponentially more important.
One of the most important of these outreach efforts came to fruition in July of this year when Secretary LaRose won the approval of the Ohio Supreme Court to allow Ohio lawyers to receive required Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit for serving as a precinct election official on Election Day. A post-election review of the program, known as Lawyers for Liberty, has revealed that 1,027 Ohio attorneys served as poll workers. This innovative recruitment campaign also resulted in other professional organizations, such as accountants, librarians, and realtors, to create similar programs encouraging members of those professions to serve as poll workers in Ohio. This creative approach to poll worker recruitment became a national model which was emulated in other states as well.
“We couldn’t wait for them to come to us -- we needed to go to them, and wow, did they step up,” said LaRose. “Serving as a poll worker isn’t easy. It’s long hours and hard work – but it’s also incredibly rewarding. Make no mistake, this election would not have been as successful as it was without these dedicated, patriotic Ohioans.”
Lawyers for Liberty, combined with other recruitment efforts with businesses, veterans groups, charities, high schools and colleges, and even barber shops, led to a total of 56,789 Ohioans trained and ready to serve poll workers on Election Day. Not only was this record-breaking participation in an important civic duty, but will pay dividends well into the future. Many of this year’s first-time poll workers will continue to perform this crucial duty for Ohio in future elections.