by Madi Brown
With election results steadily flowing in and recounts underway, many people have questions about the process of local races. We contacted Greene County’s Board of Elections Director Alisha Beeler to get more information on questions the community might have.
1) What does the Board arrange to ensure the security of elections in Greene County?
The security of elections is of the utmost importance to the Board of Elections. First, we hire people who believe in the sanctity of elections and who are ethical. We have security protocol in place that includes having a Democrat and Republican present any time a ballot is involved. Key pads are in rooms that a Democrat and Republican must open together, and stay in together if there is work to be done. Every area of the department is being recorded, even the rooms we only access occasionally. We have multiple systems in place that keep a person from voting twice. If it happens, as it did in a neighboring county, the system catches the second vote and the person could be charged criminally for it. Our staff all go through cyber security training, plus a plethora of other trainings to ensure we keep fair and honest elections. Every petition that comes in for a candidate, or a local option has the signatures checked to make sure that the person that signed is in the assigned precinct in which the person/local option is being put forth in. In addition, all of the machines are tested by a bipartisan team, and then with a public logistics and accuracy test.
2) How does the Board prevent any fraudulent behavior in local elections?
As stated above, if a person tries to vote twice, our system will catch it. When I say system that includes people in the office, not just a computer. Every person that votes must show an unexpired ID issued by the state, military ID, a utility bill in the person’s name, a bank statement, government check, or a paycheck that shows an address to be able to vote. The last four of these have addresses which we can check against our voter system. We also check the signature against what we have on file when someone comes in to vote without an ID. If there is any question as to the person being able to vote, a provisional ballot is given to the person which is counted before the official totals are posted, after they have been checked for validity. Additionally, we work with other counties to make sure people have not voted in both if there was a move, and with other states. Again, the system will catch it, and the person could be charged criminally.
3) How are absentee ballots handled?
Absentee ballots are handled the same way as other ballots. There is always a Democrat and Republican present when they are not locked up. Even to pull them out of the one ballot box outside, one of each must be present. They are checked to make sure everything is filled out correctly. If a person leaves off a driver’s license number, for instance, the Board of Elections has a curing period to let people come in and rectify any problem with missing information. We contact the person, stay late for six days after the election, and are open on the weekends for a four-hour period each day. Absentee ballots by 7:30 PM election day are in the unofficial canvass counts. If received after, but post-marked by the Monday before the election, they are included with the counts on the official canvass. We make sure that every vote is counted.
4) When the results of an election are close, how is a recount organized? What qualifies the results to be recounted and what is the process of a recount?
A recount is triggered when the difference between votes cast for a declared winning nominee, candidate, question or issue, and a declared losing nominee, candidate, question or issue is equal to or less than one-half of one percent (0.5%) of the total votes cast in the candidate contest, question, or issue. Or if there is a tie, of course. A recount is just as it sounds: both the electronic and paper ballots are gone over, and additionally the paper rolls that are in the machine are checked and each vote is recounted. This would include multiple bi-partisan teams checking everything over. The original count is compared to the recount, and yes, sometimes it changes.
Additionally, with the amount of write in candidates, and boxes not filled in all the way, each one of those has to be adjudicated [which means] looked at by a bi-partisan team to ensure that there is agreement on voter intent. So, it could be a valid write-in candidate, or it could say Mickey Mouse (which we see a lot of). It still has to be visually checked and agreed upon by the bipartisan team.
Any additional information can be found here, https://www.ohiosos.gov/elections/. Any community member that has any further questions or concerns is invited to contact the Board.
All current election results can be found here.