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Ohio officials look for poll workers ahead of what is expected to be a high-turnout August election

A man votes during early voting March 13, 2020, in Cleveland.
Tony Dejak
A man votes during early voting March 13, 2020, in Cleveland.

Elections boards across Ohio are getting ready for a special election in August, and many may be facing a shortage of poll workers. Hamilton County Board of Elections Deputy Director Alex Linser says they need nearly 2,500 people to run an election.

"I think if you ask elections officials anyway they'll tell you the number one challenge is recruiting poll workers, but it's especially hard when you have to do it on short notice and when you're doing it over the summer," Linser says.

"When we do it in August, people have conflicts; a lot of our usual suspects are on summer vacation and traveling, so we really need people to step up and try it for the first time."

Linser says the board offers training five days a week, and the job does pay. He says they hope to get more young people involved as many current poll workers are getting up in age.

RELATED: LaRose says Issue 1 is '100%' about stopping possible abortion amendment

Voters will decide Aug. 8 whether to make it harder to amend the state constitution. Issue 1 would require proposed amendments get the approval of 60% of voters. It would also require signatures for future amendments from all 88 counties, not 44, as currently stands. It would also drop the 10-day period for petitioners to get more signatures if the initial effort is short.

Republican lawmakers approved Issue 1 ahead of a movement to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution. The legislature eliminated most special elections last year, in a measure that took effect in April.

Linser says the special election will pinch the board's budget.

"We estimate it's going to cost about $1.5 million to put on this August election," he says. "Obviously, we had only budgeted for two elections this year, not three."

Linser says they're hoping for state money to help with the cost. If that doesn't come through, he says they might have to turn to county commissioners.

RELATED: Ohio Senate leader says elections officials will have enough money to conduct August 8 election

While poll workers might be hard to come by, Linser says they're planning for high turnout. "We don't have a precedent for a statewide issue, special election in August, so it's hard to guess at what turnout could be. It is a highly controversial issue so we do expect voters will be motivated."

Linser says they're planning on 30-50% of registered voters to participate in the special election.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.