Board of Elections prepared for primary, seeking more poll workers

Wilma Blackmon votes Wednesday, April 20, 2022 at the Montgomery County Board of Elections. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Combined ShapeCaption
Wilma Blackmon votes Wednesday, April 20, 2022 at the Montgomery County Board of Elections. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Early voting for state and local races is low and is expected to remain low for May 3 election.

The stall in redistricting state House and Senate district maps delayed some preparations for the May 3 primary, but area Board of Elections said they are ready for the election.

The Montgomery County Board of Elections Office leaders said they could use more poll workers.

The board has the minimum number of required poll workers to hold the election next month but is looking for about 100 more. The poll workers are assigned to precinct locations by Republicans and Democrats to ensure fairness.

“We are still short in this particular case on the Republican side,” Board of Elections Director Jeff Rezabek said. “We can still open because we are at the minimum, but if anybody else is interested in being a PEO (precinct election official), all they have to do is got on the website and go to the PEO section and they can sign up.”

Poll workers do a lot of important work to make sure the election runs smoothly, Rezabek said.

Explore60K Montgomery County voters to have new polling location for May election

“They are the first person the voter gets to see on election day and interacts with them. That poll worker is checking the ID, making sure the person is registered, making sure they are getting the right ballot,” he said, adding that poll workers also make sure no one walks out of the precinct with a ballot and that everyone’s vote is counted.

Poll workers must undergo training, some of it online and some of it in person, so signing up as soon as possible is helpful, Rezabek said.

Registered voters will have the opportunity to vote on local tax issues, countywide races as well as races for governor, secretary of state, U.S. Senate and U.S. Congressional races.

The state House and Senate and the state central committee races for each party will not be on the ballot as those are waiting for redistricting issues to be sorted out.

Early voting has begun in Ohio. About 800 people have voted early in Montgomery County and about 5,700 people have requested an absentee ballot. There are 368,000 registered voters in Montgomery County.

Figuring out exactly how many voters will vote in a primary is difficult, Rezabek said. Last May only about 8% of registered voters cast a ballot.

“Hopefully, we can get that up. Last November, which was an odd year election, we had 23%,” he said. “If we could get that in a primary that would be great.”

Barb and Dale Sanford voted early at the board of elections office this week. They said they wanted to make sure their candidate got their support and said it’s important that other residents vote too.

“I think people just don’t think it’s worth the bother,” Barb Sanford said. “When I was younger I didn’t get out to the vote in the primaries, I always made it to the big ones because I felt that was most important. But now I have time and I realize that if you don’t pick the guy you want then the big election doesn’t matter either.”

The May election is a partisan primary election, meaning voters who wish to vote for candidates running for their party’s nomination must declare themselves a part of the party to vote. Those who don’t wish to declare can vote on an issues only ballot.

The director said some have voiced concerns about having to declare a party at the polls and poll workers are being trained to spin their pad around and allow a voter to choose which ballot -- Democrat, Republican or issues only -- they want without having to disclose that information out loud. That process will work for voters using a digital ballot, Rezabek said. He also noted that a voter’s party affiliation ultimately become public record.

He said the office has heard from people wanting to change their party after declaring, but a person will remain in the party until at least the next partisan election when they can change it again.

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