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The Athens County Board of Elections continues to work after the election season. (FILE)

Board of Elections considering security increase for Election Day

The Athens County Board of Elections is considering increasing security at polling locations on Election Day as a precaution, Athens County Board of Elections Director Debbie Quivey said, though she said the board hasn't seen any local concerns yet.

"It’s a controversial election and there’s been some issues and we’re not trying to worry about them, we’re just trying to take some precautions," Quivey said.

Quivey said two Ohio University Police Department officers will be stationed at the Baker Center polling location and that she plans to recommend the election board hire a deputy from the Athens County Sheriff's Office for additional security. She said that is an increase in security from previous years.

That evening three sheriff's deputies will be stationed at the Board of Elections office, Quivey said. She said the Board of Elections becomes a secure area the evening of Election Day after ballots are cast.

Quivey said staff at polling locations in the county other than Baker Center have been instructed to contact the sheriff's office if they have "any kind of a problem."

Trump has asked supporters to watch polls for signs of voter fraud, which some say amounts to voter intimidation, according to The New York Times. Quivey said Ohio law restricts who can be present at polling locations.

"Not anyone can just walk in there and watch because polling locations are secure," she said. "Like, you just couldn’t go out and observe. ... There’s a certain procedure in the Ohio Revised Code to follow."

Observers at polling locations have to register with the Board of Elections office, which appoints no more than six observers per precinct, according to the Ohio Revised Code. Those observers cannot be candidates, uniformed officials such as firefighters or police officers, or carry firearms.

News media will have restricted access to polling locations. Quivey said reporters have a right to be at polling locations, but won't be permitted do things such as take pictures in certain situations to protect voter privacy.

"Our number one priority here in the office and out at polling locations is the voter and the privacy of the voting process," she said.

Athens Police Chief Tom Pyle wouldn't say whether his department planned to take extra security measures on Election Day.

"Well, if we did, we wouldn’t talk about it in the paper because that would defeat the purpose," he said.

He said he isn't more concerned about security for this election than he has been for elections in the past. Regardless, he said APD will have a traffic diversion program for people returning ballots on Court Street on the night of Election Day.

"Usually Court Street is a snarl of traffic," Pyle said. "We will have a traffic plan. The security plan will be on an as-needed basis."

OUPD Lt. Tim Ryan said his department will have more officers working for Election Day, but said he hasn't heard of any specific threats.

“I hope not, but you know, we’ll prepare for it,” he said.


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