By Wayne Allen
Officials from the Scioto County Board of Elections (BOE) met with the Scioto County Commissioners recently, asking for $93,000 — money over and beyond what was already budgeted to fund the general election and get the office through necessary training and the rest of the year.
“They (BOE) have a certain amount of money they have to have for their poll workers and stuff for the upcoming election. They don’t have what they need in their budget,” said Mike Crabtree, chairman of the Scioto County Commissioners. “They have some money in the budget, but they don’t have enough to cover it (total cost of general election, training and operations through the rest of the year).”
Crabtree said to ensure the BOE has enough money through the end of the year with some other issues, they have requested $93,000. He said the BOE can do some budget transfers to fund operations for the short term, and the $93,000 would cover their pay roll for poll workers necessary for the general election, material and supplies and different things they are mandated to do.
Crabtree then referred to a directive handed down from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office in July detailing mandatory training of all poll workers.
According to the Secretary of State’s office, “Recognizing the importance of having properly trained elections officials in place, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted issued Directive 2014-21, requiring all poll workers for the upcoming general election to undergo mandatory training.”
“With approximately 40,000 poll workers needed on Election Day, it is essential that we not only recruit qualified individuals, but also ensure that they are all prepared to serve voters,” Husted said in a released statement. “Well-trained poll workers are just one more way we continue to make it is easy to vote and hard to cheat in Ohio.”
According to released information from Husted’s office, “under state law, poll workers are required to participate in an education program that instructs them as to the rules, procedures and law pertaining to elections administration in Ohio. New poll workers must go through training before working the polls, while those who have previously served only need to go through retraining a minimum of once every three years. (This) directive ensures all poll workers are ready for the 2014 November General Election.”
To aid in the cost of this training, Husted made $760,000 available to boards of elections. Each county is allocated a portion of that funding based on number of registered voters. Based on figures released from Husted’s office Scioto County will receive $4,614.17.
Crabtree said this request by the BOE is not uncommon for the county.
“This, or something similar to this, comes up about every election,” Crabtree said.
When asked if the commissioners were going to give them the requested money, Crabtree said, “We’re not going to give them $93,000 right now. We’re going to give them whatever we can do to carry them through until later. I would say by the end of the year it’s going to have to be made up somehow.”
Crabtree said the county will receive amended certificates that estimate county revenue throughout the year. He eluded that if revenues are on the increase, they may be able to make the difference that way.
Randy Basham, chairman of the Scioto County Board of Elections, said the requested money would pay for the necessary training and fund the general election.
“At our last board meeting three weeks ago, the board members wanted the girls to go back to the county commissioners for funding to conduct the election. Ever since they’ve been in fiscal emergency status we’ve always been back and forth (on budget issues). Now since they are out (of Fiscal emergency status), we’re hoping when the request is made it’s expedited,” Basham said. “The Secretary of State has ordered all board of elections poll workers be trained. This is usually an off year, where just the presiding judges receive training, but since some of the laws have changed they want everyone trained.”
Crabtree said for the short-term the board of elections are going to transfer some money from different accounts.
Julia Gearheart, director of the Scioto County Board of Elections, said at a meeting on Monday they will be hiring poll workers.
“We’re required to hire poll workers by a September date, but we won’t have a meeting before that date. We are going to hire poll workers today (Monday). In order to hire the poll workers we have to have the funds available to pay them. What we are going to do in the meeting today is hire the poll workers upon the date the money is available,” Gearheart said.
Gearheart said they will hire 308 poll workers. She said of the $93,000 request, $30,000 would be used to pay poll workers along with some funding the board of elections has.
When asked about the reaction from the commissioners upon the funding request, Gearheart said, “They are willing, they are always willing to give it to us, which we are mandated to do. They (commissioners) totally understand it, they never give us any kind of argument or anything when we ask for money,”
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT