CRAWFORD COUNTY — The Crawford County Board of Elections is gearing up for the Nov. 3 General Election, making new polling site preparations and anticipating a high volume of absentee ballots during this COVID-19 pandemic.
Director Ruth Leuthold said the elections board already has received 4,681 requests for absentee ballots from voters and are anticipating even more as the deadline nears. However, she noted people still have the option to vote on Election Day at their respective precincts or they can come to the board of elections office at 112 East Mansfield Street, Bucyrus, Suite A, and vote there starting Oct. 6.
“We’re going to have all three options available as usual,” Leuthold said. “People can request an absentee ballot by filling out an application.” She said absentee ballot request forms are available on board of elections website. Voters must have the ability to print the application out because the board needs original signatures. She also said people can call the board office at 419-562-8721 to request an absentee ballot.
Leuthold suggest voters shouldn’t wait until the deadline to request an absentee ballot because there may not be enough time for voters’ ballots to get back to the board office in time.
“The actual deadline is Saturday before the election, which is Oct. 31, at noon. But that doesn’t really doesn’t allow enough time for the ballot to get out because they have to post mark the ballot by Monday, Nov. 2, or bring it back to our office on Election Day and you can’t take it to the polls. It has to be brought back to our office.”
To make sure voters and poll workers remain safe on Election Day at the polls, Leuthold said they are making a few changes for this election.
“Voters will be asked to wear a mask when they vote. The tables where they sign the tablet, there will be a sneeze guard between the voter and the worker, and we will have hand sanitizer for voters to use. Also, the voting units are going to be spread out a little farther,” she said. “We’ll have some markings on the floor to remind people to keep their distance. And we’re going to have disposable stylists, so each voter will get their own stylist so when they go to sign the tablet they can take it over to the voting unit to use it to vote with and they can keep it or throw it away. It will be just one person using a stylist.”
Leuthold said the elections board is pretty well staffed with poll workers, but people can still submit their name if they are interested in serving as a poll worker.
“We’ve got most of them assigned, but there are some people that haven’t gotten back to us about if they are willing to work. We’ve lost some who aren’t willing to take the chance,” she said.
“Another thing … if you’ve submitted an application for an absentee ballot, you’re not going to get the ballot right away,” Leuthold noted. “We can’t send ballots until Oct. 6. But the sooner we get their application, the sooner we can have it ready for when we have the ballots. We’re trying to stay ahead of the game instead of behind.”
The board anticipates a higher number of absentee ballot requests this presidential election because of COVID-19.
“We haven’t surpassed yet what we had in 2016, but it’s not even near absentee voting time yet. It will be higher than what we had the last presidential election,” she said.