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Ohio News Connection

With the Ohio primary less than a week away, election officials don’t want COVID-19 to become a hindrance to democracy.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose has been working with local election officials and health departments to help reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission on Election Day, March 17. Those efforts include moving roughly 125 polling locations from senior living centers, and ensuring best practices for sanitizing polling equipment.

Jen Miller, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, said there’s still time to vote by absentee ballot.

“They can print those off online from the Secretary of State’s site, and they need to mail those requests in by Saturday at noon,” she said. “And then, they need to postmark the return ballot by March 16” — next Monday.

County boards of elections also will be accepting curbside drop-off of absentee ballots during regular voting hours on Election Day.

About 35,000 poll workers are needed for an election in Ohio, and Miller said there are some concerns right now about a shortage for the primary. Health professionals say they don’t believe working at the polls is a health risk, although Miller acknowledged that many poll workers are older — a demographic group considered more vulnerable to infection.

“We are really calling out to younger people to jump in there and help at the polls,” she said. “There’s still time to sign up and get trained. You get paid, and it’s a great way of helping make sure that our democracy works well for everyone.”

Gov. Mike Dewine declared a state of emergency on Monday after three residents of Cuyahoga County tested positive for the coronavirus.

Voting information is online in at VoteOhio.gov.

This story was produced in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation..