Nov. 5—Poll monitors working with an Ohio-based voting advocacy program said they saw issues throughout the state with absentee ballots and other problems during early voting for Tuesday's general election.
The Ohio Election Protection program is a nonpartisan team of trained volunteers who can help voters with questions or concerns they may have about their local election. The program is run by multiple Ohio-based voter advocacy groups like the Ohio Voter Rights Coalition (OVRC).
The team is nationally known for its year-round hotline: 866-OUR-VOTE. The hotline is monitored by volunteer lawyers familiar with Ohio voting law, ready to answer the questions of voters or look into their concerns.
But the program also enlists local volunteers to help people vote during elections in their communities.
OVRC voter engagement coordinator Courtney Flynn, said the program also works with local members of the clergy to assemble a team of "peacekeepers" who can be sent to polling locations to de-escalate rising tensions — something that can deter people from wanting to cast a ballot.
"We really just want to fully encompass the needs of voters in any election," she said.
Flynn said the Election Protection program saw a number of trends during this election's early voting period and during the August special election: some people across the state were calling in to report that they did not receive their absentee ballots after sending off a request to their local election board office, to start.
Flynn said her group heard reports from voters in Franklin County and elsewhere who noticed political signs were taken down at their polling locations, particularly churches. Other reports in the state showed confusion continues to surround Ohio's new voter ID law, with some voters being asked to vote provisionally even if they brought acceptable photo ID to their polling location.
Flynn also said the Ohio-based organization is expecting more voter intimidation during Tuesday's election, and her group has been preparing for it.
"We're here to reinforce the fact that you're able to engage in your local election if you choose to," she said.
In-person early voting ends today, Nov. 5, and absentee ballots need to be postmarked on or before Monday or returned to election board offices or their dropboxes by 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Voters with concerns about their polling locations or concerns about casting their ballots can contact their local election board office. The Election Protection program can also be reached at 866-OUR-VOTE.
Cox First Media also wants to hear from voters when voting problems arise. The newsroom can be reached at 937-610-7502.