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Election day and coronavirus: How Ohio is preparing

Secretary of State Frank LaRose says 128 polling locations will be moved out of nursing home for next week's primary.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As concerns continue growing around the coronavirus, how is Ohio preparing to address the illness as voters prepare to hit the polls next week?

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose held a press conference on Tuesday to outline the steps his office is taking to ensure voting will go forward. 

LaRose announced three key points during his briefing.

  • In response to Ohio Department of Health recommendations, LaRose issued a directive to all county Boards of Elections to move voting locations which are currently located where senior citizens reside for the health and safety of those residents. Boards will work within their communities to find alternative voting sites. LaRose said that 128 polling locations will be moved out of nursing homes for the March 17 primary.
  • Ohioans should strongly consider voting by mail or early voting. To vote from home, visit VoteOhio.gov and request your absentee ballot from your county board of elections as soon as possible.

It’s very important to note that the official canvass of results is not finalized until the 21st day after the election (April 7, 2020). This allows for ballots submitted by mail to be postmarked by the day before election day and received through the tenth day after the election and still be reflected in the final, official results.

  • Curbside drop-off of absantee ballots at county boards will be available on Election Day. Many Ohioans will not be requesting absentee ballots until this week and could be concerned about returning their ballot in time to be counted. Further, many Ohioans may simply feel better about returning their completed ballot in person. With that in mind, county boards will allow voters to drop off their absentee ballots at their county board of elections on election day from 6:30am to 7:30pm.

Just as is the case if a voter is in line at a voting location, as long as the voter is in line by 7:30 p.m., that voter will be able to cast their vote.

LaRose also indicated that his office is following guidelines to ensure that voting machines are clean. In addition, the CDC and Ohio Department of Health have provided his office with best practices that will promote the health and safety of the poll workers needed to run Ohio's elections. 

"While we certainly don’t want poll workers to participate if they aren’t feeling well, we are working with our county boards to ensure a healthy voting environment," LaRose added. 

The state is in need of pollworkers for Tuesday. Those interested should visit ohiosos.gov/defenddemocracy.

In addition, the Secretary of State's office has created a website to answer questions about coronavirus preparations for Election Day. Visit voteohio.gov/coronafacts.

The primary election will be held next Tuesday, March 17.

You can watch LaRose's comments in the player below: 

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