Nov. 2 election: Use your voice by voting

Nov. 2 election: Use your voice by voting

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On Nov. 2, every registered voter has a chance to step up, speak out, and have a say by voting in the general election. Although it's not a presidential race, there are numerous important regional and local issues and offices on the ballot.

"Many people think that odd year elections are 'off year' elections, when, in fact, these are extremely important elections because voters will be selecting officials who will affect their every day lives such as township trustees, municipal council members and school board members along with many local issues," said Julie Leathers Stahl, the director of the Wayne County Board of Elections.

Absentee and early voting are currently underway. Although an absentee ballot may technically be requested until noon, Saturday, Oct. 30, anyone sending a request in the week prior to the election risks not receiving a ballot in time.

"The United States Postal Service indicates that it could take 5-7 days to receive mail," said Stahl. "Since the postmark deadline for voted ballots is Nov. 1 or the ballot must be brought to the board of elections by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day (Nov. 2), we cannot guarantee delivery of a mail ballot in time if the request is received that last week."

Mailed ballots may be sent certified mail or any other means that provides a proof of delivery. A close family member may also drop off a voter's ballot.

For casting a ballot prior to Nov. 2, the early vote center located at the Board of Elections is open Oct. 18-22 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Oct. 25-29 from 8 a.m.-7 p.m.; Oct. 30 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.; Oct. 31 from 1-5 p.m.; and Nov. 1 from 8 a.m.-2 p.m.

Every voter appearing at a polling place must provide proof of identify. An Ohio driver's license or state I.D. with current information is acceptable. Additional forms of identification can be found at www.ohiosos.gov/elections/voters/id-requirements.

Stahl explained that prior to every election, voting machines are subjected to rigorous testing.

"Each voting machine goes through an extensive logic and accuracy testing regime done by bipartisan teams," she said. "Our tabulation system is also tested multiple times ... our voting machines and tabulators are never connected to the Internet. In fact, those capabilities have been disabled."

The current system was acquired in 2019. "Our board, staff, and county commissioners did an intensive study for nearly two years on every voting system certified in the State of Ohio and chose this system because it was secure and user-friendly for our voters," said Stahl.

Every voting system must be certified by the U.S. Election Commission after rigorous testing and then it has to be certified by the Ohio Board of Voting Machine Examiners. "This testing and certification takes months to years," Stahl said.

Several options are available for voters with disabilities. There is an Audio Tactile Interface (ATI) unit installed at every polling location for voters who are visually impaired. "We also have a fully accessible Remote Ballot Marking System for absentee voters with disabilities," said Stahl. "Voters are also welcome to bring someone to the polls to assist them."

The Board of Elections relies on volunteers to insure that elections run smoothly. Morgan O'Rourke is an elections specialist I with the Wayne County Board of Elections. O'Rourke explained that prior to the election it takes between 5 and 10 seasonal volunteers to help with processing absentee voter applications and run the early vote room.

On Election Day, that number jumps considerably. "At minimum we need four poll workers for each of our 67 precincts, plus another 10 volunteers who travel around throughout the day and provide extra help and equipment where needed," said O'Rourke. "That adds up to over 270 volunteers for election day. And that’s not counting our list of substitute workers ready to step in if we need them.”

Poll workers are paid both for training and for Election Day. O'Rourke said that every year there are people who take the day off work in order to volunteer. "We couldn’t hold an election without our volunteers," said O'Rourke. "Some things take a village, and elections are certainly one of them.”

Brian Chisnell has been a volunteer at the Board for five years. Prior to that, he volunteered as a poll worker for over 20 years. His duties include testing voting machines, printers and poll pads, checking absentee applications, pulling and mailing ballots to absentee voters, handling in-person absentee voting, as well as assisting on Election Day.

Chisnell sees his work as "an opportunity to be involved at the grassroots level of the political process. I believe it's my civic duty to help provide an election for Wayne County voters."

Chisnell learned the importance of a vote early on. His uncle was mayor of Doylestown. When the elections ended in a tie, the final decision was made by drawing straws. "He won each time," said Chisnell. "His luck drove home the importance of each and every vote."

The Board of Elections is always looking for more volunteers. Contact O'Rourke or Joni Hagans at 330-287-5480, or emailing wayne@ohiosos.gov.

Voters can find information on local issues and candidates, view sample ballots, check their registration, print off an Application for Absentee Ballot, and many other resources at www.WayneCountyOH.gov.

"The best voter is an informed voter," said Stahl.

The 2021 General Election takes place on Tuesday, Nov. 2. Polling locations will be open from 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Voters are encouraged to check to see if their polling location has changed at www.WayneCountyOH.gov.

On Election Day, all voting takes place at voters' assigned polling locations. "The only exception to this is if someone has changed their name or address and wishes to cast a provisional ballot," said Stahl.

The Wayne County Board of Elections is located at 200 Vanover St., Suite 1, Wooster, OH, and can be reached by phone at 330-287-5480.