Ohio, Washington County officials discuss election in Marietta

Photo by Janelle Patterson Washington County Board of Elections Director Mandy Amos, right, shows Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose equipment used to count votes during a visit Wednesday in Marietta.

MARIETTA — The Ohio secretary of state toured the Board of Elections office in Washington County where the cost of upgrading elections equipment, cybersecurity and more participation in elections were among the issues discussed.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose asked Wednesday about backup power capabilities and how poll books are secured between primary, special and general election times during a tour at the Davis Avenue office.

Board of Elections Director Mandy Amos and Deputy Director Peggy Byers said they were surprised to hear of LaRose’s work that could save the county $75,000 in purchasing new poll books–electronic tablets used to sign in registered voters on Election Day.

“We don’t want people to have to buy new poll books when these are (less than) 3-years old,” LaRose said.

LaRose is working with electronic systems companies that Ohio counties contract through to push for better cross-cooperation between systems.

Amos and Byers also said the office is seeking adult poll workers for the November election. When schools are back in session, youth also can be recruited to work Election Day.

Adult poll workers are asked to apply by Aug. 15 to be selected and trained in October following the Oct. 7 voter registration deadline.

They toured the Emergency Operations Center where poll worker training will be held. Additional training will be required as the county begins to integrate electronic voting machines in addition to the paper ballots.

The visit was more than an introduction. LaRose used the morning to discuss financial concerns facing small county and elections, answer questions concerning a new cybersecurity directive to be in place before the 2020 primary and signal coming proposed legislation to update voter lists.

“We’re about to oversee what may be the most contentious election year, and we know the world’s eyes are going to be on Ohio,” said LaRose. “I recognize that (cybersecurity directive) is not an easy task… but I think of it like a preflight checklist before the 2020 election.”

Required upgrades include the installation of intrusion detection devices, an assessment and annual training on cybersecurity and physical security, criminal background checks of permanent board of elections employees, vendors and contractors performing sensitive services, software to prevent email spoofing, using the state’s Security and Event Management Logging System.

Amos said at least one township trustee seat in each township in the county is up for re-election this fall, several village office positions and all township fiscal officer positions.

“And the school boards each have at least two seats coming open again,” she added, noting Wolf Creek has three this fall. “Those petitions need to be in by Aug. 7.”

Janelle Patterson can be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.