As preparations continue for the November vote, elections officials are struggling with how to allow safe access for all voters. And part of that strategy involves creating barriers.

Ohio has more of an idea about what this November’s election will look like now that the state’s election chief has handed down a directive outlining details to Ohio’s 88 county boards of elections. 

Ohio’s secretary of state says an election day with in-person voting is still the plan for this fall, but he’s suggesting some changes in case concerns about coronavirus keep voters away.  A key voting rights group agrees, but wants to go further.

Cars lined up along the curb and voters got out to drop off their ballots this morning outside the Montgomery County Board of Elections.
Leila Goldstein / WYSO

Today’s almost all mail-in primary election has created a lot of unusual changes for county election boards across the state. Ohioans with disabilities and those without a home mailing address are still permitted to vote in-person. Voters who requested an absentee ballot by the deadline but did not receive it in the mail can also show up in person to request a provisional ballot. 

As of this morning, Montgomery County had about 15,000 unreturned ballots. That made it hard to predict how many people would drop off their ballot or vote in person. 

The coronavirus crisis led to an order from the Ohio Department of Health that canceled in-person voting on March 17, 2020, the originally scheduled date of the state's primary election. Health Department Director Amy Acton ordered all polling locations to be closed due to a health emergency.

The bill that made some changes across state law related to coronavirus also set a new ending for the Ohio primary, after polling places were shut down just hours before election day.

Thousands of voters came out around the state to cast ballots in person on the final weekend of early voting.

Counties throughout the Miami Valley are having to find new polling places for the upcoming election.
Clark County, Ohio

Counties throughout the Miami Valley are having to find new polling places for the upcoming election on Tuesday. The Secretary of State has directed that all polling locations at residential senior citizen facilities must be relocated because of concerns about the coronavirus. Montgomery, Warren, Darke and Clark counties have all had to find new polling sites. 

Thousands of Ohio voters are finding out if they want to vote on election day, they’ll have to go to a new place to cast their ballots for the St. Patrick’s Day primary next week. The state is moving 128 polling places out of nursing homes and senior residential facilities because of concerns about spreading coronavirus to residents.

(NOTE: This story has been updated with a list of the new polling places.)

Election Cybersecurity Training Comes To Ohio

Feb 11, 2020
Secretary of State Frank LaRose said 82 of Ohio's 88 counties are now fully compliant with his security directive.
Leila Goldstein / WYSO

This Monday at the Ohio Statehouse, representatives from the University of Southern California (USC) and the Department of Homeland Security spoke to Ohio election workers about cybersecurity. The event was part of USC’s Election Cybersecurity Initiative. The training program, funded by Google, is touring all 50 states.