Ohio elections officials still get calls about 2020. Here's what they want you to know

The Hamilton County Board of Elections gets questions from the public about the 2020 election and election security every day, even almost two years later.

As the 2022 election nears, the number of emails and public records requests from members of the public regarding the 2020 election have spiked, said Alex Linser, the board's deputy director. In the past two weeks, they have averaged about three a day, he said.

"There are two common themes that we receive — distrust of the voting machines, and the other seeking reproduction of all of the documents created in the 2020 election," Linser said. The latter, which includes every ballot ID envelope, costs $75,000 to copy every sheet. No one has taken the board of elections up on that offer, Linser said.

Zach Cox, Hamilton County Board of Elections worker, prepping voter booths at the Hamilton County Board of Elections in Norwood.
Zach Cox, Hamilton County Board of Elections worker, prepping voter booths at the Hamilton County Board of Elections in Norwood.

It's not just Hamilton County. Backers of former President Donald Trump and his false claims of a stolen 2020 election have swamped the boards of election in more than two dozen states and counties all across Ohio, the Washington Post, National Public Radio and other news agencies reported.

"The board of elections receives a lot of communication from people who are questioning the integrity of the 2020 election," Linser said. "We know that was the most accurate and safe and secure election in American history. The good news is, you don't have to take my word for it. We can show you."

Here's what Linser and other elected officials want you to know.

No internet for voting machines

Voting machines cannot access the internet, elections officials said. The Ohio secretary of state requires an independent verification that each voting machine doesn't have any hardware capable of going online, Linser said.

Voting machines await testing and inspection at the Hamilton County Board of Elections in Norwood on Tuesday
Voting machines await testing and inspection at the Hamilton County Board of Elections in Norwood on Tuesday

Also, no computer in the room where votes are counted on election night can access the internet. The lack of internet is also why there's a one-to-two hour delay between reporting the absentee ballots, which are already at the board of elections, and the first few precincts, Linser and elections Director Sherry Poland said during a media tour Tuesday.

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A fleet of 26 trucks delivers the voting equipment from the polling locations to the board of elections to be tabulated. The first trucks usually don't arrive until 9:30 p.m. or 10 p.m. on election night.

An election official can't upload the results to the web from the counting room. There's no internet. So they must take a thumb drive to another computer in the building to upload the results for the public to see.

Pollworkers work in bipartisan teams

Those who work at the Hamilton County Board of Elections repeat a mantra during election season, "bipartisan teams."

A Board of Elections worker opens the door to the vote counting room at the Hamilton County Board of Elections in Norwood
A Board of Elections worker opens the door to the vote counting room at the Hamilton County Board of Elections in Norwood

If you watch the informational videos the Hamilton County Board of Elections has posted its website, you'll hear the phrase over-and-over.

Elections officials want to drill into the public's consciousness that both Republicans and Democrats share equal oversight. The Hamilton County Board of Elections four-member board has two Republicans and two Democrats.

Four rooms at the board of elections require both a Republican and a Democrat to use their passkey to enter. This includes the vote-counting room and the large, locked cage where the ballots are stored. Without the cards of both a Democrat or a Republican, the rooms stay locked.

No bullhorns allowed

People can start voting early and in-person Oct. 12 in the early voting center at the Hamilton County Board of Elections. But there will be one subtle difference outside. The politicians and their camps outside in the parking lot will not have any bullhorns. They were getting too loud and could be heard in the voting booths, elections officials said. So the Hamilton County Board of Elections has banned them.

High turnout and more absentee votes

Poland and Linser expect this election will have a high turnout for a midterm. In the 2018 midterm election, 58% of Hamilton County's voters showed up to the polls for the general election.

Based on absentee voting numbers, this election could see a much higher number. As of Tuesday morning, 50 days out from the election, the Hamilton County Board of Elections has received 37,896 requests for absentee ballots. At the same time in 2018, the board had received 17,126 absentee ballot requests, a 121% increase.

For more information on how to vote, visit the Hamilton County Board of Elections at votehamiltoncountyohio.gov.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: What security procedures are in place for the 2022 election?