Ohio’s elections chief focuses on poll worker recruitment

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted speaking to supporters at the Ohio Republican Party celebration, in Columbus
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted speaking to supporters at the Ohio Republican Party celebration in Columbus

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Ohio’s elections chief said Wednesday he is renewing efforts to recruit and train poll workers as the closely watched battleground state prepares for another presidential election.

Speaking at a meeting of local election officials, Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted said his office plans to urge businesses, schools, churches and other organization to encourage people to devote “a day for democracy.” More than 40,000 poll workers help manage polling places statewide on Election Day.

“There’s nothing that matters more on Election Day than having good poll workers,” Husted told the Ohio Association of Election Officials. He said his recruiting initiative seeks to appeal to people’s sense of patriotism. And he stressed the importance of having workers, particularly high school students, who can use the latest technology.

Husted also addressed some snags that arose in the last November election, including glitches with electronic poll books and with postmarks on absentee ballots.

Electronic poll book issues caused voting delays in Hamilton County, home to Cincinnati. The county later reported it lacked the proper Internet connection and didn’t recruit or train poll workers properly on using the technology. Husted said the county elections board has a plan to address the problems.

Discussions continue about how to fix problems with postmarks on mailed absentee ballots.

In Summit County, more than 800 ballots cast by mail in November arrived without postmarks and were discarded. That’s because Ohio law requires that absentee ballots received after Election Day can only be counted if they are postmarked by the day before the election. In all, 1,523 fall ballots across Ohio arrived after Election Day without a postmark and were not counted, Husted said.

While the number was a fraction of the roughly 435,000 mailed absentee ballots, Husted said it was troubling. “Those ballots were likely cast by voters who followed the law,” he said.

Husted said the ballots should have received a postmark under the U.S. Postal Service’s policies. He said his office is working with postal officials to find a solution.

“The fact that these ballots were disqualified is not the fault of the boards of elections or the voters,” he said.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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