Voting in Shelby County is just as easy as last year

By Pamela J. Kerrigan - Guest columnist

Voting in Shelby County’s Nov. 5, 2019 general election is under way and voting is just as easy as it was last year.

First, I want to emphasize that Precincts 1 through 7 will be voting at Lehman High School These precincts previously voted at the VFW in north Sidney. VFW is no longer available and Lehman High School has been kind enough to allow those voters who previously voted at the VFW Hall to now vote at Lehman High School.

Second, let me tell you about absentee voting by mail. As I explained last year to you, a government employee will come to your home and pick up your absentee application and deliver it right to the Board of Elections Office. Once the absentee application is processed (normally the same day) another government employee will deliver the ballot back to your home address. Then, when you are ready, the same or another governmental employee will pick up your secret ballot and transport it back to the Board of Elections for processing and counting on election day. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how Ohio’s absentee voting works and its all accomplished through the U.S. Mail and our friends at the U.S. Postal Service. How about that? You never have to leave your home to vote. What a convenience!

For a more personal experience, you can cast your ballot in two other ways. Early in-person voting can be completed at the Shelby County Board of Elections Office on East Court Street during regular and special extended hours through 2 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 4. I f you arrive at the Board of Elections Office for early in person voting, you will be asked to complete an absentee application so that your eligibility can be established. Eligibility is established by furnishing identification as such government issued photo ID, military ID, utility bill with your correct name and address, bank statement with correct name and address, government check with correct name and address or a paycheck with correct name and address. Once your eligibility is out of the way, you can vote right there in the Board of Elections Office. You should be in and out of the office in about ten minutes. Also, you can case your ballot on election day, Tuesday, Nov. 5, at your polling location. Polling places are assigned based upon your residence address. Yes, voting is that easy here in Shelby County. We have been busily preparing for this election at the Board of Elections for a number of months. We have been insuring voter registrations are up to date, eligible candidates appear correctly on the ballot, issues and levy language meet standards set forth by the Ohio Revised Code. Cybersecurity measures are current, ballots are printed and allocated to each precinct, and last but not least, training and re-training of election officials (previously called pollworkers) has been fully completed.

At your Board of Elections, we use these training sessions not only to update precinct election officials on policy and procedures but to identify where those election officials find it difficult to ensure your voting experience is efficient, matter of fact and very positive for you.

Although very rare, there are instances where your voting eligibility might be questioned at the polling location. Those instances could include you simply not being registered to vote in Shelby County, your current name or address not matching the Board of Elections voter registration records, you could be at the wrong precinct, or maybe you have not voted in awhile and your records were deactivated using Ohio’s standard registration records procedures.

Regardless of the reason, there are two actions you can count on. First, you will never be denied the opportunity to vote, second, we will never squabble about your eligibility at the polling place. We commit to you that under Ohio’s provisional voting process, provisional voting is a fail safe which allows a voter whose identity or eligibility is in question to go ahead and case a ballot on the spot.

Verification of your eligibility is then completed by the Board of Elections after Election Day but before the election is certified. If you are asked to vote provisionally, you will receive the same ballot as everyone else in the precinct except your ballot will be sealed in its own privacy envelope. That sealed envelope is not available to the press or public and will only be opened and your votes counted once your eligibility to vote has been determined. If for some reason you are determined ineligible, your ballot will remain sealed indefinitely.

Remember, most of you will vote at the same location that you voted last year, save and except Lehman High School, the new polling place for those who previously voted at the VFW. Remember, you can vote early, vote absentee or vote in person on Nov. 5. Please vote.

By Pamela J. Kerrigan

Guest columnist

Pamela J. Kerrigan is the director of the Shelby County Board of Elections.

Pamela J. Kerrigan is the director of the Shelby County Board of Elections.