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Tips on voting during #COVID from the perspective of a poll worker

September 30, 2020
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I admit I am not a morning person, but on November 3, at 5:30 a.m., I will bring a strong cup of coffee, my smiling eyes and face mask to one of the Cuyahoga County Board of Election’s polling centers – the Michael J. Zone Recreation Center. Since 2018, I have signed-up to work the polls – or to be a precinct election official (PEO). PEOs are poll workers tasked with making sure the election process is handled professionally and lawfully. Due to health and safety concerns due to the coronavirus pandemic, there may be a shortage of poll workers this year. If Ohio doesn’t have enough poll workers, then election boards will need to consolidate polling locations, which could lead to long lines and long wait times. To help, companies and organizations—like The Center for Community Solutions— are giving employees the option to work the polls this Election Day without taking vacation or personal time. In Cuyahoga County, PEOs are paid $250 for their service, which covers mandatory training, election day prep and payment for actually working on Election Day. Visit https://www.ohiosos.gov/elections/poll-workers/ to learn more about becoming a poll worker.

 In Cuyahoga County, PEOs are paid $250 for their service, which covers mandatory training, election day prep and payment for actually working on Election Day.

While my fellow poll workers and I work diligently to help our friends, family and neighbors have a safe and stress-free voting day; there are a few things you can do to help us out.

  1. Make sure you are registered to vote. Eligible voters have until October 5 to register to vote, which can be done by mail or online at https://www.ohiosos.gov/elections/voters/.
  2. Update your registration. If you have moved, or plan to move before November 3, it is important to update your registration. Updating your registration will ensure that you vote at the correct polling location. You can check or update your registration by visiting https://www.ohiosos.gov/elections/voters/register/.
  3. Have the proper identification. To vote, you will need to present proof of your identification: driver’s licenses, state ID, military ID, etc. Because of COVID-19, identification cards that expired after March 9, 2020, will be considered valid on November 3. You can find a full list of acceptable voter identification here https://www.ohiosos.gov/elections/voters/id-requirements/.
  4. Bring a mask and practice social distancing. Many counties require the use of face coverings and social distancing to help reduce the spread of COVID. Your polling location will have signs to help you navigate these changes. There will also be a sanitation worker who will be responsible for cleaning all equipment in between voter usage.
  5. Be patient and kind. Whether it's their first time, or they've been working the polls for years, the stress of Election Day—especially during a pandemic—can be hard on poll workers. Please be patient and kind as workers walk through the processes they need to do to help you vote – it can make a significant difference.
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