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More absentee ballots expected; election costs could go up

When a presidential election comes around, it always means more activity at the county’s board of elections office.

But now with a new directive from Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted this November’s election could be not only busier but more expensive for the local BOE.

“The Secretary of State is saying there will be 50 percent more absentee voters across the state than four years ago,” board chairman Craig Allen said. “The studies are showing that.”

That means in Lawrence County 12,000 will vote absentee instead of showing up at the polls on Nov. 6.

As of the March primary there are 43,128 registered voters in the county. With Ohio’s no fault absentee voting policy all could vote absentee since an individual isn’t required to give a reason for wanting an absentee ballot.

To get an absentee ballot a voter must first fill out an application. That can be done in the BOE office in the courthouse or voters can request that it be sent to them through the mail.

After the application is received, it is then processed. An absentee ballot can be sent out to the voter and returned by mail or an individual can vote absentee at the BOE office.

Applications can be requested now and must be received by noon the Saturday before the November election in order to be mailed out. Voters can vote absentee at the office up to 6 p.m. the Friday before the election.

To be counted ballots must be postmarked by the day before the election.

“It is very labor-intensive,” Allen said.

Normally a presidential race costs 40 to 50 percent more than an off-year election.

“A presidential election is always the busiest and the governor’s race is the second,” Allen said. “It is part-time help on a full-time basis. Starting in September they will work all day through election day. We will have people inquiring where their precincts are or have political parties and interest groups asking for voting lists. There is a lot of activity.”

With more absentee voters expected for the upcoming elections, the part-time employees brought in will put in more hours processing applications and ballots, according to BOE director Cathy Overbeck.

“Usually we bring in four more ladies from the last week of September through the election cycle,” she said. “I will probably bring them in earlier depending on the volume of absentees.”

Despite the increase in absentees the BOE will be required to man the precincts with four workers each. There are 84 precincts in the county.

“We hire 336 in the field and those in the office,” Overbeck said.

Base pay for a precinct worker is $101.50 plus $21 for a mandatory class.