POMEROY — As part of his goal to visit all 88 county Board of Elections offices during his first year in office, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose made a stop in Meigs County this week.
LaRose met with Board of Elections members and staff, as well as stopping in a poll worker training which was taking place at the office.
He asked each of the poll workers how long they had been serving in that role, with many having served five years or more.
There are more than 10,000 poll worker in the state of Ohio during each regular election, noted LaRose, adding that it is the dedication of those poll workers that makes the elections run smoothly.
“Thank you for making our elections look easy, because they are not,” said LaRose of the work of the poll workers in assisting with smooth elections.
This will be the first county-wide election in Meigs County in which the new electronic voting equipment will be used, making it a change for the poll workers as well as the voters this year. While the voting is completed electronically, there is still a paper back up for each ballot cast, as well as paper ballots on hand should there be a power outage or other issue which would keep electronic voting from happening.
LaRose said that the new equipment was a priority, with funding made available for the purchases.
Elections equipment is the “infrastructure of our democracy”, added LaRose.
LaRose said that he is traveling to all 88 Board of Elections offices in his first year for three main reasons. First is to have a chance to learn from the people in each county who run the elections. The second is to talk about the work being done, including the security directive, with the third reason being to highlight the successes of the state.
“Unfortunately, some parts of the public don’t even know how a board of election operates,” said LaRose. “They have two republicans and two democrats that run the board and how the staff is bipartisan that run the show. That’s only possible because of the dedication and patriotism of people that come to work every day and we want to highlight that.”
Ohio is leading the way in security for elections, noted LaRose.
As for cyber security, LaRose stated that the voting and tabulation equipment is never to be connected to the internet, and is not capable of being connected to the internet. Tampering with the equipment in an attempt to connect it would be a crime, noted LaRose.
The security directive handed down by the Secretary of State’s office in June includes 37 points which are to be addressed by each county to help with the continued security of elections in the state.
The secretary said 37 points of security were developed with help from federal law enforcement agencies in the hopes of strengthening Ohio’s election security. Federal funding has been made available to help with the implementation of the directive, which is to be completed by the end of January.
LaRose said he wants Ohio to be the “best prepared state in the nation for the very real and credible security threat” against elections. He added that it is no less important in places like Meigs County than anywhere else.
In addition, the Secretary of State spoke of the access to voting for Ohio’s residents, with online registration, 28 days of in person early voting, vote by mail options and the traditional election day voting. Early voting is taking place daily in advance of the Nov. 5 General Election at the Meigs County Board of Elections office on East Memorial Drive in Pomeroy.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.