COLUMBUS – Since taking office in 2019, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has made poll worker recruitment a priority. Innovative outreach programs were initiated to ensure polling locations were fully staffed each election day. With the impact of COVID-19, recruitment efforts became exponentially more important as a high percentage of poll workers were older Ohioans. Today, the Ohio Supreme Court announced one of these pioneering programs will continue through the November 2021 election.
In the summer of 2020, Secretary LaRose first 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 (PEO) in the November election. The program, known as Lawyers for Liberty, contributed more than 1,000 new poll workers last fall as Ohio broke the record for trained PEOs. The nation noticed and other states followed Ohio’s lead, prompting the National Association of State Election Directors to present Secretary LaRose with the 2021 “Innovators Award.”
“Unique challenges require creative solutions, and that’s exactly what happened when we created Lawyers for Liberty last year,” said LaRose. “We appreciate the Ohio Supreme Court recognizing the high value of this program to both Ohio lawyers and the communities they will serve as poll workers.”
Lawyers for Liberty, combined with other recruitment efforts with businesses, veteran groups, charities, high schools and colleges, and even barber shops, led to a total of 56,789 Ohioans trained and ready to serve as poll workers on Election Day 2020. Not only was this record-breaking participation an important civic duty, but it 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.