Board faced unique challenges during elections



SIDNEY — The 2020 election cycle was historically unique in so many ways.

For the first time in history, Ohio primary elections on March 17 were suspended just two hours prior to polling locations opening. This was a result of four different court orders being issued in an eight hour period at the request of the governor due to the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Accordingly, our local board followed the statewide orders of Secretary of State Frank LaRose and suspended voting as constitutionally scheduled,” said Chairperson James Kerg. “Subsequently, the Ohio legislature stepped in and authorized extending the primary election utilizing absentee voting which was completed on April 28 and locally certified on May 11. During the summer the Board conducted a special election for local tax levy issues on Aug. 4.”

His report continues:

Additionally, the board conducted interviews seeking a new deputy director and subsequently hired and appointed Collin Claywell to the position. In anticipation of the new early voting requirements, staff set-out to recruit additional polling election officials for the November 3rd general election. More than 200 Shelby County citizens completed comprehensive election official training in the months leading up to the general election. Training included traditional coverage of election laws, procedures, equipment operations and was supplemented with expanded curriculum covering health and safety protocols as a result of the Covid pandemic.

The Nov. 3 general election was prepped by verifying the accuracy and reliability of ballot processing and equipment functions. As early voting commenced in October, Shelby County voters were provided with a new Early Voting Center. In just a few weeks, under guidance from the Secretary of State’s office, local staff converted our conference room into a complete and secure early voting facility serving voters 30 days up to the election. The center comfortably processed up to 600 voters per day, setting new county voting and registration records through election day.

More than 25,000 county citizens cast ballots and surpassed a 76% turnout rate. Unlike delays elsewhere, our Board transmitted Shelby County election results to the Secretary in Columbus around 10pm on election night. The board certified these results on November 16 and subjected them to successful audit on Nov. 23. Additionally, the board worked year-long with federal and state grant sources to obtain supplies, security, and health materials. It has been an exceptional opportunity to face new and unprecedented challenges. The Board looks proudly at Director Pam Kerrigan, Deputy Director Collin Claywell, Board Clerk Trina Reithman and our team of over 200 fellow Shelby County election officials. Job well done, on time, under budget with integrity and enthusiasm. The Board of Elections closed 2020 receiving an “exceptional” citation award from the Secretary of State’s office for 2020 election performance.

2021 will offer elections for many local government offices from city and village councils, township offices, and school board positions. We encourage all Shelby County citizens to register and cast your vote. Citizens are welcome to attend our monthly Board meetings, typically at 10am the third Monday of each month. Feel free to contact us at [email protected] . Our normal office hours are weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. We look forward to meeting the needs of our Shelby County voters in the future.