Butler County Board of Elections Deputy Director Jocelyn Bucaro will be sworn in as the Ohio Association of Election Officials president this morning at its annual conference.
However, most all of the election office employees will attend the two-day conference in Columbus, leaving a skeleton crew to run the board of elections from until the rest of the staff returns for a half-day of work on Friday.
“We’re not closing,” said Bucaro. “We made it available to our staff to attend the conference because there are classes and continuing education that will benefit them for their jobs.”
She also said they wanted to come to show their support of Bucaro, who’s been the in line for the position for the past couple of years serving as second vice president and then first vice president.
“We’re ensuring the office is open and covered, and candidates can get their petitions filed,” she said. The filing deadline for the May primary is Feb. 7.
Bucaro said it’s not unusual for other county boards of elections to have a skeleton crew staff during the conference. In smaller counties, they close because their staff is only the board of elections director and deputy director.
The OAEO is a 50-50 group of election administrators, directors, deputy directors and board members from all 88 counties. This coming year will be important for all boards of elections as it’s anticipated voting machines for most, if not all, offices will be needed.
Bucaro said the association, along with the County Commissioners Association of Ohio, is pushing the general assembly to enact legislation that will pay for new voting equipment.
Butler County’s voting equipment is more than a decade old, and its operating system is 18 years old.
“We hope (the bill) will pass this spring,” she said of Senate Bill 135 introduced by Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Hudson, who is running for Ohio Secretary of State this November.
The association will also push for ways to figure out how to reduce costs for running elections, Bucaro said, because “we can’t have this need to spend billions and billions of dollars every 15 years.”
“We have to find ways to make it easier to vote, ensure that we have safe, secure elections that the public can count on, and seek ways to address the rising costs of running elections.”