BOE: Record number of ballot requests

MIAMI COUNTY — As of Tuesday, the Miami County Board of Elections had received more than 13,000 absentee ballot applications — 3,000 more than the 2016 Presidential Election.

Executive Director Laura Bruns said as of Tuesday, 13,637 applications to vote by mail have been received. The board has sent 148 ballots to overseas and military residents with the general population who requested absentee ballots to receive their ballots beginning Oct. 6. Approximately 10,000 mail-in applications were received in 2016.

“We’re already over that number,” Bruns said of this year’s applications over the 2016 count. Bruns said applications have subsided in the last few days following the Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s absentee application mailed to all registered voters in Ohio earlier this month. Bruns said some voters have received applications from their parties, but only one application is accepted per voter, and duplicates are separated from the initial applications.

Voters also can go online at www.boe.ohio.gov/miami/ and request an application to be mailed to their registered voter’s address. Duplicate applications are checked, but only one application is processed for a ballot. No email or faxed applications are accepted.

On Tuesday, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced 1,784,004 absentee ballot applications have been received by county boards of elections statewide. This includes 17,217 requests from military and overseas voters whose absentee ballots started to be mailed out last week. All other absentee ballots also will be mailed beginning October 6. Over the past week, 385,657 new absentee ballot requests were made by Ohio voters.

At the same time during the 2016 election, 805,844 absentee ballots had been requested. All data is current as of Sept. 18.

• With a decision still looming in state courts, the Miami County Board of Elections voted to acquire two more drop boxes contingent on the state’s directive of adding more ballot drop boxes and locations.

Chairman Dave Fisher said he’d like to have the drop boxes located at Piqua and Tipp City’s civic centers. Bruns said there would be logistics such as transportation by two registered voters of opposing parties and the boxes must be under 24-hour surveillance. The motion was set to be enacted once pending legislation with the Secretary of State has been finalized.

• The Miami County Board of Elections received a $39,522.50 grant from the Center for Tech and Civic Life organization. The grant was part of a $250 million donation made by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and is to be used for non-partisan activities such as poll worker recruitment and training, equipment for voting locations, voter education, and other election activities.

Bruns and Deputy Director Ian Ridgeway researched the cost of an OPEX mail extractor machine. The machine costs approximately $30,000. The device would open envelopes, ensure it is empty, and keep information like voter addresses more confidential. Staff said it would cut down on the timely process and could be used for future elections. Board member Audrey Gillespie said she liked that it would be no-touch processing. Secretary of State Liaison Kenny Henning said the majority of county boards of elections have one or multiple OPEX machines. The rest of the funds Bruns said she’d like to use for catered box lunches for poll workers for Election Day due to workers not able to bring in food items because of COVID-19.