Miami Valley boards of elections make final preparations ahead of Election Day

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MIAMI VALLEY, Ohio (WDTN) – The Montgomery County Board of Elections is in the final week of preparations ahead of next Tuesday’s election.

So far only a few hundred voters have voted early in Montgomery County, but the board director says that’s expected for an off-year election. Still, he says the engagement of those voters is very high, and this election will have a significant impact.

Jeff Rezabek is the Director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections. He says, “If a voter is engaged, they vote on every race, not just one or two then leave everything else blank. That really tells us the voters are engaged.”

Rezabek says so far 237 people have voted early, well below last November’s numbers. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose says, “Ohio has been on this good trajectory of continuously setting and breaking records for voter participation.”

Several school board issues are on the ballot, as well as the race for Dayton mayor, Dayton city commission, and races in Huber Heights. No matter the turnout, the board analyzes every aspect of an election. Rezabek says, “We do the same thing in the small elections because then we can implement a lot of different things we saw that were good or didn’t go so well.”

They always analyze how quickly and efficiently the absentee ballot process is working. Rezabek encourages people to check their polling locations as some have changed and says COVID-19 safety procedures are ready. And a key focus in this election is making sure people know how to use the new express voting machines.

Rezabek says, “They come in, vote really quickly, look at the issues, and then are able to cast their ballot. And they feel their time was used wisely instead of just standing in line.”

In Miami County only 350 people have voted early so far, not a high turnout. But the board director thinks the enthusiasm from last November should carry through to next year’s gubernatorial election. And next week they’ll have the chance to perfect their new system.

WATCH Miami County Board of Elections making final preparations ahead of Election Day:

Miami County Board of Elections Director Laura Bruns says, “We still consider our voting system relatively new. We’ve only used it now twice.”

Bruns says some voters are still surprised to see paper-based ballots, a switch from touch screens. “More security. The voter is marking it with their own hand and feeding it themselves into that scanner. We have the digital image the scanner takes of the ballot.”

Bruns says it’s more transparent and easier to use, a good economic decision for the county. “Just another chance to get that out, and perhaps get some of those wrinkles out. But it’s a complete switchover.” The change was made to be more accommodating and efficient.

Bruns says it’s a nearly constant effort to improve the process.

County boards usually meet regularly but this January’s conference was postponed. It’s now been rescheduled for this summer, a chance for national experts and academics to share best practices. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose says, “In many ways it’s also that peer-to-peer interaction. It can’t be overstated how important it is to get our 88 county boards of elections together in the same place.”

LaRose says no matter the turnout next week, the individual boards will keep working to improve what works for them. “The decentralized nature of our elections in this country is not a glitch, it’s a feature. It’s the way the system was designed intentionally. That local control of elections is so important.”

Wednesday afternoon Secretary of State Frank LaRose will come to Montgomery County. He’ll watch the board check equipment, then talk about a new elections law proposal.

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