The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

September 26, 2013

Ashtabula County absentee ballot requests running below the norm

JEFFERSON — Interest in absentee voting for the Nov. 5 general election is lagging, Ashtabula County Board of Elections members learned at Wednesday’s meeting.

To date, requests for absentee ballots is trailing previous elections, said Carol Lovas, director. While numbers weren’t provided at the meeting, “not an abundance” of the ballots have been requested either by mail or in person, she said.

“But that doesn’t men things won’t change,” Lovas said.

Over the past two days, numbers have perked up somewhat, thanks to contacts from area nursing homes. Early voting for the election begins Nov. 1, Lovas said.

“Hopefully the low count on absentees will pick up,” said Joseph Varckette, board chairman.

The fall election features dozens of candidate races in cities, villages and townships, as well as more than 40 issues, including a county charter government initiative.

In related news, the board unanimously agreed to open the office for early voters between 8 a.m. and noon on the Saturday before Election Day. The Ohio Secretary of State’s office traditionally gives county board the authority to set its own times and days for early voting. As a result, times and days differ between counties, triggering some litigation.

Columbus may weigh in with a directive before the election, board members were told.

This fall also brings the first general election since the board consolidated precincts at the start of the year. The number of precincts shrank from 127 to 104 to improve efficiency and cut costs. As a result, some polling places will see a handful of precincts under the same roof. To help minimize confusion, the election board will station two-student teams at 13 of the busier polling places in the county to help voters find the proper precinct.

The students will be equipped with computer tablets loaded with voter registration information to help them quickly pinpoint precinct data.

The tablet teams will supplement more than 400 precinct workers and substitutes ready to work the election. Training is intensifying, and will include a mock election for workers in Conneaut and the county’s eastern regions.

“Poll worker training will consume us the next two weeks,” said Duane Feher, deputy director.

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