Voters explore options for casting ballots, helping community


Mark C. Olsen

Poll workers handle voters’ mail-in ballots in protective masks. Source: Creative Commons

Emily Voneman, News Editor

Around the country, all eyes are on the 2020 presidential election. This year, however, not all of the focus is on the candidates; many Americans are wondering what the voting process will look like on Nov. 3. 

   Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose discussed the options that Ohio voters will have in selecting their next president during a press release on Aug. 12. 

   “Ohioans need to know that they have three great options for how to vote … You’re going to have the opportunity to vote for 4 weeks of early voting, you’re going to have the opportunity to participate in 4 weeks of absentee voting, [and] you’re going to have the opportunity to go and vote [in person] on Election Day,” LaRose said.

   These options provide voters with the choice of casting their ballot in person at a polling location or filling out their ballot at home and mailing it to their local election office.

   With concerns high over the COVID-19 virus, absentee voting, also known as mail-in voting, has become increasingly popular. However, large amounts of voters are worried that the process is neither easy nor secure. 

  North senior and first-time voter Addison Schmitt voiced her concerns over the absentee voting procedure.

   “I’m voting in person. As much as I’d like to be safe [from the virus], I didn’t want to risk mailing [my ballot] incorrectly or my ballot getting lost in the mail … 

   “I wouldn’t be surprised if some ballots were rejected or lost in the process. There’s also a [greater] potential to make mistakes and lose your chance to vote because of personal error when writing or mailing the ballot,” Schmitt said. 

   LaRose addressed the spread of rumors that fraud will be rampant in the absentee voting process. He assured voters that Ohio has protections in place to ensure the process is secure. 

   “Unfortunately, there is information that makes its way around sometimes on the internet and from other places as it relates to election security in general, and specifically as it relates to the security of our mail-in ballots here in Ohio … 

   “For close to twenty years … both parties [in Ohio] … have trusted absentee voting because Ohio has thoughtful safeguards … [For example], everything at your County Board of Elections is thoroughly bipartisan … [and] you have to authenticate who you are before you even request your ballot,” LaRose explained. 

   Ohio voter Sandra MacGillivray plans to vote absentee this year. She described some of the benefits that mailing in a ballot can offer to voters.

   “[For] people that perhaps are elderly or ill or can’t get to the [polling places] and … people that are nervous about the COVID-19 virus … I think [absentee voting] is a positive thing for them,” MacGillivray said. 

   MacGillivray said her county’s Board of Elections has made the absentee voting process simple and helped voters avoid making mistakes on their ballots that might discredit their vote.

   “I was really happy with [the Clark County Board of Elections]. They gave good instructions on what to do … And it was very easy to do. 

   “If you couldn’t understand something, you could call the [your voting] district and they would help you, tell you what something means or what to put where. Because if you put the wrong thing … then your vote isn’t going to be counted,” MacGillivray said. 

   LaRose expressed that casting your ballot in person at a polling location will not be as drastically different as it may seem. 

   “You’re going to have the opportunity to go in and vote on Election Day and be greeted by the smiling face of one of your neighbors … You won’t see them smiling because they’ll be wearing a mask, but in many ways, Election Day and the months leading up to it are going to be just like Ohio has grown accustomed to for many years,” LaRose said. 

   Schmitt, who is also a volunteer poll worker this year, emphasized the importance of the work that poll workers do to keep voters safe and ensure their voice is heard.

   “As a poll worker, I [will] be at the polls making sure things run smoothly … [and making] sure everyone is following COVID-19 guidelines. Working at the polls is very important right now,” Schmitt said.

   A lack of poll workers this year poses a serious threat to voter turnout, according to Schmitt.

   “Usually, [many] senior citizens work polls, but due to the pandemic, a lot of them cannot do it this year, meaning there’s a serious lack of assistance across the nation. A lack of poll workers can mean the polls take longer, and can in turn discourage people from voting,” Schmitt explained. 

   Schmitt recommends volunteering as a poll worker for anyone who is looking to make a difference in their community. High school seniors can take part, too, she said. 

   “If you are a high school senior, I highly recommend you work at the polls. You do not need to be able to vote, you just need to be able to work! … As a teenager, you can still have an impact on this election, no matter how small,” Schmitt said.