Issue 1: Secretary of State puts out call for more local poll workers

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Local counties could use more poll workers to administer the Aug. 8 special election on Issue 1, according to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

A tracker created by the state provides progress reports on local boards’ poll worker recruitment. Meeting the minimum means every poll location is staffed to capacity; meeting the goal means every poll location has an excess of poll workers in case previously committed poll workers are unable to show up on Election Day.

That tracker shows that Preble and Darke counties are the only two counties in the nine-county region that are already staffed to capacity. Both counties have also met the secretary of state’s goal.

Local tracker data, last updated by the secretary on July 18, is below:

CountyGoal for Committed poll workersMinimum number of poll workers neededTotal poll worker sign upsRemaining Democratic poll workers needed to meet goalRemaining Republican poll workers needed to meet goalRemaining other poll workers needed to meet goalRemaining poll workers needed to meet goal regardless of party affiliationGoal Reached?
* Source: Ohio Secretary of State. Data last updated July 18, 2023.       

Montgomery County, which has had more poll workers sign up in the week since the tracker was last updated, had 1,416 poll workers signed up Monday — 252 workers short of the “minimum” and 503 short of the “goal.”

Montgomery County Board of Elections Director Jeff Rezabek said being below the minimum doesn’t mean that counties would be unable to administer a smooth election.

“Can I run an election with 1,400 workers? Absolutely,” Rezabek said. He said meeting the minimum goal of 1,668 workers would mean less shuffling around and more flexibility to provide breaks to the workers on a long Election Day.

Rezabek said the goal is always to have an excess of poll workers, given the inevitability of day-of cancellations. “Already, people have committed to be poll workers and when coordinators call out, we’ve got people canceling already and those have got to be backfilled,” Rezabek said.

For now, Rezabek said any worries about finding enough poll workers to administer the Aug. 8 election were unfounded, at least in Montgomery County.

“If we had the numbers that we have in a general election like November, I would be extremely happy because I think we’re in a good spot. We’re normally short as we come out two weeks in advance. Do I want to be 250 short? No, but I wouldn’t be too upset,” he said.

In Darke County, the board of elections is already sitting fully prepared for Aug. 8 after the board previously voted to reduce the total number of poll workers needed in each precinct.

“We have met those requirements and we currently have all of the backup poll workers that we intend to need for this election,” said Darke County Board of Elections Director Paul Schlecty

Schlecty said the Darke County Board of Elections has seen a large interest from the community to fill out the poll working roster, but is always willing to accept more interested applicants.

Poll workers must be at least 17 years old and registered to vote in their county. Poll workers can not be running for election, nor have been convicted of a felony, unless that felony was reversed, expunged, or pardoned.

Poll workers are required to complete a training session before Election Day, and working hours on Aug. 8 are from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Pay varies by county, but in Montgomery County, poll workers receive $120 for Election Day and $25 for training.

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