COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus City Council is putting more protections in place for Nov. 8 poll workers.
“Certainly, as an elections official, we applaud that,” Franklin County Board of Elections PIO, Aaron Sellers, said.
Sellers says the new legislation serves as a strong reminder for best practices at the polls.
“The job is already hard enough as it is,” he said. “And these are big elections. Presidential cycles. Gubernatorial cycles. But, remember that your poll worker is a vital part of the component of running elections.”
“Let’s be clear it is already against the law to assault somebody or to create an unsafe situation at a polling place,” Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said.
LaRose says most Ohioans understand the polls are a sacred space and believes Columbus’s ordinance was unnecessary.
“I think this is the problem with sort of 24/7 news cycles on cable and everything else,” he said. “They maybe have heard about something that happened in another state and perhaps overreacting a bit, but we’ll never take any chances when it comes to public safety and so if that’s the decision they wanted to make for Columbus, we welcome that.”
He says to his knowledge, there have been no credible threats in Ohio against poll workers.
“I received a call in August at the primary where somebody was threatened,” Columbus City Councilman, Emmanuel Remy said. “One of our poll workers.”
Remy says he didn’t think penalties went far enough. Now, if a person is found guilty of election interference or harassment of an election official, it’s a mandatory three days in jail.
“We’re serious about this,” Remy said. “If you interfere with the election process there will be significant consequences.”
Sellers says on Nov. 8, there will be 309 voting locations in Franklin County and 199 of them will be in Columbus. To work those polls, the Franklin County Board of Elections is recruiting 5,000 workers.
“If there’s one thing that I am certain about, we’re gonna make sure that everybody that comes to vote and all of our poll workers are safe and secure,” LaRose said.