Board of Elections sees shortage of poll workers midst coronavirus concerns


MIAMI COUNTY — The Board of Miami County Commissioners passed a resolution authorizing county employees to work as poll workers without losing leave days for the Miami County Board of Elections during the March 17 Primary Election as the Board of Elections is losing poll workers in response to the coronavirus.

“We are unfortunately experiencing canceling of precinct election officials at a very high rate,” Board of Elections Director Laura Bruns said Thursday afternoon.

Bruns asked for the commissioners to authorize county employees be able to work as poll workers without having to use a leave day, which is a contingency included in the Ohio Revised Code as long as it is approved by county commissioners. The financial implications of this resolution are currently unclear, but it appears those county employees will be eligible for overtime if they choose to work as a poll worker due to poll workers having to work between approximately 5:45 a.m. until after 8 p.m. on election days.

Bruns said the board had eight people cancel their plans to work as poll workers just on Thursday morning. The board is also expecting to lose a number of high school students who were previously signed up to work as poll workers, as 17-year-olds can work as poll workers.

“We need to have (at least) 25 additional workers to be at a place where we’re comfortable,” Bruns said. She added if the precincts do not have enough poll workers, voters may see lines at their polling locations when they go vote on Tuesday.

Bruns said the board has “a lot of plans and measures” to keep people safe during the March 17 election, including hand sanitizer, gloves for the workers, and alcohol wipes.

“We have purchased as much hand sanitizer as we could get our hands on,” Bruns said. The Ohio Secretary of State’s Office is also expected to reimburse the county for the extra expense of the sanitation items, which Bruns estimated to be around $50.

“We’re going to have an election no matter what,” Bruns said.

Commissioners Ted Mercer and Greg Simmons each spoke in support of approving this resolution, but Mercer requested finding out more information about the financial implications of this resolution. It is unclear how this will impact the county budget.

“I’d like to get that clarified,” Mercer said. He added later that county employees are not being assigned to work as poll workers, only given the option if they so choose.

Anyone interested in working as a poll worker can contact the Board of Elections at (937) 440-3900. The board will be conducting training sessions this weekend as early voting continues at the Hobart Center for County Government, 510 W. Water St., Troy. People eligible to work as poll workers must be a registered voter in Miami County, must be at least 17 years old, have no felonies on their criminal record.

Early voter hours include:

• Thursday and Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

• Saturday, March 14, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• Sunday, March 15, 1-5 p.m.

• Monday, March 16, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Commissioner Jack Evans was absent Thursday.

By Sam Wildow

Miami Valley Today

Reach the writer at [email protected]. © 2020 Miami Valley Today, all rights reserved.

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