Butler County preparing for November election that still includes in-person voting

Credit: Michael D. Pitman

Credit: Michael D. Pitman

The Butler County Board of Elections received nearly $300,000 to help voters and poll workers stay safe during in-office early and Election Day voting amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The $298,000 CARES Act grant funds will be spent on various personal protection equipment (PPE), such as extra masks for voters and poll workers, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies for surfaces, and plastic guards for voting machines.

“We’re taking every precaution we can to protect our poll workers and our voters,” said Butler County Board of Elections Director Diane Noonan.

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Election Day this fall is Nov. 3, and in addition to the presidential race, voters will decide who they want to be elected to Congress, the Ohio Statehouse and several countywide offices. They will also decide on pocketbook issues, including a pair of countywide tax renewal levies.

The elections office share of the CARES Act money will also be spent on hiring part-time staff needed because of the coronavirus pandemic, Noonan said.

As it stands, November’s voting calendar will run as scheduled — 28 days of in-office and absentee early voting to start on Oct. 6, and 13 hours of Election Day voting. Ohioans wanting to register to vote must do so by Oct. 5, which can be done online or in person by 9 p.m. at the board of elections office.

All registered voters will receive applications for an absentee ballot around the first week of September. Any voter not receiving an application can call to request an application at their elections office, or visit VoteOhio.gov and follow the online instructions.

But the Butler County elections office is making a big push for poll workers, said Butler County elections Deputy Director Eric Corbin.

“Right now, our main thing is we’re looking for poll workers,” she said.

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Corbin said they have poll workers, but many are also in the high-risk category for COVID-19 “so we’re looking for lots of new poll workers.” Poll workers must go through a training session and work a 13-hour shift on Election Day. For their time, they will be compensated $200.25.

All poll workers must wear masks, and possibly face shields, and while board officials will make disposable masks available for voters, Noonan said they can “never disenfranchise any voter.”

“We will have masks if they don’t have one. We will ask them to wear a mask, but we can’t enforce it,” she said.

The board also received a $40,000 Helping America Vote Act grant, which must be spent on ADA compliance and mitigate any cybersecurity issues.

Noonan and Corbin said no step of the counting process is ever connected to the internet, which includes all voting machines and the tabulation server. Once the election is counted, they say the information is taken off the county’s server with a USB drive and then uploaded to the county’s website.

The elections office last received a Helping America Vote Act grant in 2019, also for cybersecurity.

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Sept. 18: Military and overseas absentee voting begins

Oct. 5: Voter registration deadline. Ohioans can register online or until 9 p.m. at their county board of elections office

Oct. 6: Absentee voting and in-office early voting can begin.

Oct. 24-25: First of two weekends for in-office early voting at boards of elections

Oct. 31-Nov. 1: Second of two weekends for in-office early voting at boards of elections

Nov. 2: Last day for in-office early voting, all absentee ballots must be postmarked by this date. Last day for military and overseas absentee voting

Nov. 3: Election Day. Polls open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and absentee ballots may be hand-delivered to the elections office by 7:30 p.m.

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