Election Day safety policy approved


By Melanie Speicher - mspeicher@sidneydailynews.com



SIDNEY — Safety guidelines for the Aug. 4 Special Election, along with the November General Election, were approved Monday by the Shelby County Board of Elections. The safety policy was adopted to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as instructed by Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose via a statewide directive.

Board member Merrill Asher reviewed the poll safety policy before it was adopted by the board.

Asher said he and Director Pam Kerrigan have been in contact with Wilson Health concerning assistance in taking temperatures of poll workers and voters on Election Day. Screeners — provided by Wilson Health — are anticipated to be at the precincts to take temperatures.

The board is still investigating the possibility of law enforcement being on hand at each voting location in case an issue arises.

“We don’t want Wilson Health (screeners) running into an issue without law enforcement there” said Asher.

There are five voting locations for the Aug. 4 Special Election which includes seven precincts at the Shelby County Fairgrounds, seven precincts at Lehman Catholic High School, and three other locations in the Sidney City School District. The school system has an emergency tax levy on the ballot.

“We don’t want an abundance of people in the building,” while voting, said Asher. Lehman and the Fairgrounds each have two entry ways into the building. One will be used as an entrance while the other will be used as an exit.

All poll workers, said Asher will be required to wear a mask or dace shield. Voters will also be encouraged to wear a face mask or covering when they enter the polling location.

Social distancing will be observed. Marks will be placed on the floor to indicate the 6 foot distancing locations.

Before and after the polling location opens, workers will clean and disinfect tables, chairs, door handles and other surfaces. During voting hours, door handles, check in tables and polling booths will be cleaned and disinfected throughout the day.

It was suggested that poll workers not share food on Election Day.

Kerrigan said voters who have come to the board of elections to cast an absentee ballot have been wearing face masks or coverings.

Chairman Jim Kerg and board member Douglas Pence questioned whether everyone needed to have their temperature taken on Election Day.

“I think everyone should (have temperature checked) so we’re consistent with everyone,” said Asher. “We want to protect the public and the poll workers.”

Kerg expressed his opinion about taking temperatures.

“They (voters) have a right to keep the name and temperature out of a public record,” said Kerg. “We don’t need to create a record of temperatures.

“But we owe it to the people to not let fevered people into the polling location,” said Kerg.

Asher said a record would be kept of the poll workers’ temperatures so ensure they are healthy when they start working on Election Day.

“For the public, we’ll be taking temperatures prior to their entering the building,” said Asher. No records of temperatures will be kept.

After the August election, the board will review the day’s events and modify the policy as needed for the November election.

In other business, the board:

• Learned the board is eligible for more than $38,000 through the CARES Act. The funds will be used to pay for COVID-19 expenses.

• Discussed the board’s comp time policy as it applies to an employee leaving the board of elections’ employment. Eric Ambos, Shelby County Prosecutor’s Office, was asked to have a written policy for the August board meeting.

“I just want to say that we put in 11 to 12 hour days for two straight weeks prior to the election,” said Kerrigan. “We can’t hire extra help. We (director or deputy director) has to b here.”

The proposed change includes limiting comp time to a two week limit if the employee leaves the office.

• Also asked Ambos to research the procedures to have law enforcement officers at each polling location and whether the board has to pay for the service.

• Agreed to purchase a drop box to be installed outside the board of elections office where voters can drop off their absentee ballots. The drop box will be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

• Discussed the security projects underway at the board office.

• Approved bills that have been filed for audit.

The board’s next meeting will be on Election Day aug. 4, at 6 a.m.

The next regular meeting will be Monday, Aug. 17, at 10 a.m. in the board office. The Aug. 4 election will be certified at the meeting.

By Melanie Speicher

mspeicher@sidneydailynews.com

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.