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Ohio Boards Of Elections Adapting To Primary Day Change

Boards of elections were ordered to post notices of the primary delay at their offices and polling places Tuesday, March 17, 2020. [Nick Castele / ideastream]
A sign notifying voters that polls are closed due to an order from the Ohio Department of Health

With in-person voting on hold for Primary Day, Ohio voters could have a chance to cast their ballots June 2, but local boards of elections are not able to register any new voters, according to a directive from Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

The Feb. 18 voter registration deadline is still in effect.

Boards of elections around Northeast Ohio have been working to communicate the decision to close polls since the final announcement late Monday night. All boards are required to post an alert of the closure on their websites and social media, according to the directive.

As soon as the final word on the primary came in, Lake County’s board reached out to voting location managers to notify them of the closure, said BOE Director Ross McDonald.

“And from there, they called their coworkers,” McDonald said. “One of their responsibilities is to call their workers the weekend before the election anyway.”

Phone calls have been coming in all morning from potential voters seeking more information, McDonald said. Lake County residents who want to vote can’t cast a ballot in person Tuesday, he said, but registered voters can apply for an absentee ballot.

The BOE can help print that application onsite, McDonald said, and once voters receive their ballots, they can drop them off at the BOE.

“We have a curbside drop box that voters are able to just drive up and slip their ballot into,” McDonald said. “They may also come into the board of elections. We have a ballot box on our front counter.”

The Lake County BOE is following guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Ohio Department of Health on sanitization and hygiene, McDonald said. The curbside drop box is one method for people to continue isolation even while voting, he said.

“It’s really made it better from the voter standpoint and our standpoint, that they can limit their public interaction,” McDonald said.

Voters are still able to enter the facility to get help applying for absentee ballots and turning in completed ballots, McDonald said. But the situation could change moving forward, he said.

“We’re waiting for the county commissioners to make a determination on whether or not they’ll have the public coming in and out at this time,” McDonald said.

Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by June 1 and received by June 12 to be counted, according to LaRose’s directive.

Final results will not be reported until the close of in-person voting on June 2.