The Athens County Board of Elections is handling this year’s midterm election with increased staffing and resources for the Board and polling locations.
According to Athens BOE Deputy Director Tony Brooks, the office is in a good place this year to handle voters and operations during election season.
Brooks said because of extra funding from Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office and the special election this year, the office has been able to purchase extra office supplies and organizational materials to support poll workers.
Additionally, Brooks said the BOE received a positive response from community members wanting to volunteer as poll workers. He attributes the high level of volunteerism to the significance of this year’s election as both a midterm and gubernatorial year.
The Ohio Secretary of State’s office reported that by Nov. 2, 84 of 88 Ohio counties had reached the poll worker recruitment minimum. This year, Athens County surpassed the secretary’s goal of recruiting 15% more than the minimum number of workers, with approximately 290 on the roster compared to the 224 minimum.
“In the off years, like next year, we won't have a lot of people that will volunteer. Brooks said. "Those are the years that we struggle a little bit harder, but we are always pleased to have an extra list to call."
Brooks said the BOE received a good amount of early voters this year, despite there being fewer compared to the presidential election years. This year the BOE had about 5,000 people requesting absentee ballots, in addition to an expected 3,000 or more voters at the BOE office prior to election day.
Early voting has increased statewide compared to the last gubernatorial election in 2018. Exactly one week prior to election day, 817,644 Ohioans had voted early, compared to 736,464 in 2018, according to the secretary of state’s office.
Though office staffing, poll workers and concrete materials are currently readily available for the BOE, Brooks said the office is outgrowing its current space.
“The main thing that our office is needing resource-wise is more space and storage space type things, working space for when we have elections,” Brooks said. “That's our main issue that we work with and that's been that way for a couple of years.”
In 2019, the city considered moving the BOE office to the ATCO building on Stimson, but ultimately decided to remain on Court Street due to accessibility concerns, according to a previous Post report.
Despite the building’s limitations, Brooks said BOE employees are able to move things around during election seasons to maximize space in preparation for the multitude of voters they expect to see.