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Officials express concerns about added vote hours

October 18, 2012
Morning Journal News

LISBON - Following the mandate to all counties by Secretary of State Jon Husted, the County Board of Elections will be open on Saturday, Sunday and even on Monday for early in-person voting.

However, the board members did voice several concerns about logistical issues the requirement will cause.

For the next two weeks voters can take advantage of early voting hours from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Then the weekend prior to the election the board of elections will be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday.

Two board members Larry Bowersock and Jim Beardsley expressed concerns over any requirement for the board to have voting hours on Sunday.

"I would have to agree to Saturday, but when has a government office ever been open on a Sunday," Beardsley said.

Additionally, the Monday hours have the board members concerned. Executive Director Adam Booth said it takes time to print out the signature books for each polling place. Usually, the judges for each polling place pick up the signature books during the day on Monday in preparation for Tuesday morning.

However, Booth expressed concerns about someone coming to the board of elections to vote prior to 2 p.m. on Monday, but after one of the judges has picked up the book. The staff will then have to contact the judge somehow to alert him about the ballot cast at the board of elections in order to ensure the person does not vote a second time at the polling place.

In a smaller county, it will be easier to make certain two ballots are not cast, but in a larger county with millions of voters, board members expressed concerns.

Bowersock said it would be better if the votes cast on Monday were counted as provisional ballots, which are not scanned until later and would give them additional time to catch any errors. Early votes are scanned immediately.

"I want to urge people, if they feel they have to vote early on the last three days to utilize the hours on Saturday and Sunday," Booth said.

"If they have to come on Monday, we are not going to turn anyone away."

Booth said the most important part for the state mandate is that all 88 counties are going to be required to have consistent hours and opportunity for people to vote.

Still board member David Johnson lamented the loss of a time when election day was actually held on Election Day instead of for more than a month prior to the election. Already the board of elections has had 638 people stop at its new location on Dickey Drive in Lisbon to vote for the upcoming election.

Additionally, Deputy Director Kim Meek reported 7,399 have requested absentee ballots. Of those numbers, 1,373 have been Democrats and 1,815 have been Republicans. The largest number, 4,211 have been independents. Absentee ballots cannot be turned in at the polling place and must be received at the board of elections in person or by mail. Those mailed must be postmarked by Nov. 5 and received no later than Nov. 16 in order to count.

One additional concern of board members is how much overtime the board of elections is going to need in order to maintain all the extra required hours for early voting. Booth pointed out most of the extra time is being taken as compensation time later, not in monetary additional dollars.

"Our staff has been doing an excellent job," Meek complimented.

The board will meet at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5 in order to try to resolve any issues or concerns about Election Day.

djohnson@mojonews.com

 
 
 

 

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