Montgomery County Board of Elections expecting triple the usual number of mail-in ballot applications

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Local boards of elections are ramping up efforts to ensure this election is safe and properly staffed. They’re also cautioning people to be on the lookout for unfounded rumors.

More than one Board of Elections director said if you’ve already filled out an absentee ballot application to vote by mail, don’t fill out another. The duplicate applications are creating headaches for staffers that are already working hard to ensure election day runs smoothly exactly eight weeks from Tuesday. 

The Montgomery County Board of Elections is already working extra hours on split shifts 8 weeks ahead of the November 3 election. Staffers are operating the phones from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to help people who are voting by mail for the first time. The Montgomery County Board of Elections can be reached at 937-225-5656.

The first day ballots will be sent out is October 6th. Board of Elections directors encourage people to not delay in returning them.

Right now Montgomery County is working to process more than 5,000 applications for absentee ballots that were improperly filled out. Montgomery County Board of Elections Director Jan Kelly says, “By law, we have to try and hunt you down, call you, you have to call us back, leave the information, fill it in for you unless it’s the signature, and it just creates a lot extra work for all of us.” 

In the 2016 presidential election, 55,000 people in Montgomery County voted by mail. So far 52,000 people have requested applications with 56 days to go. Kelly says, “We’re anticipating probably triple the amount of absentee ballots we had in 2016.” 

Secretary of State Frank LaRose says the state is engaged in an extensive battle against misinformation, which has forced local boards to adapt their roles. Kelly says “What’s the same would be the better question. Everything’s different.” 

WATCH: Secretary LaRose addresses misinformation tied to the election

For example, Kelly says she was recently sent a falsified ballot claiming the post office can tell who you’re voting for. “That is not true. There are no ballots in the state of Ohio that go out with any kind of indication as to whether it’s a republican or democrat ballot. This is the kind of disinformation that foreign adversaries use to create trouble. And they’re very effective at it.” 

Kelly says the BOE has a strong relationship with local post offices to ensure ballots are promptly returned. She says, “When people dismiss entities like the US Postal Service, these are local people we work with. These are our neighbors and friends. They’re trying to do their job as well as they can just like we are. So it is a trusted system.”

Boards of Elections have had to adapt in recent years to address sometimes volatile issues they did not face in years past. Kelly says she’s of course had to counsel the County on how the BOE is handling COVID-19 protocol, but other issues are scarier.

“It’s not for the weak, to run a Board of Elections, that’s for sure,” she says. “It’s gotten much scarier. The physical security of the building is much more secure than it ever was before. Our relationship with Homeland Security, meetings with the FBI, we never had that before. We weren’t taught what to do in case of a pipe bomb.” She says staving off cyber-security threats takes up a significant amount of her time, as does data processing.

COUNTIES THAT STILL NEED HELP:

  • Miami County needs poll workers. BOE Director Laura Bruns says the county has gotten nearly 6,000 absentee ballot applications so far. You can check the status of your application here. Bruns reminds people “early in-person voting will once again take place at the old county courthouse. A dedicated voter entrance will be on the south side of the courthouse near the new fountain.”
  • Montgomery County needs Republican poll workers to ensure a poll worker from each party is present at each polling location
  • CLICK HERE to sign up to be a poll worker
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