Election worker shortage causing delays in absentee ballot processing

Published: Oct. 26, 2020 at 11:01 AM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - It’s the latest issue plaguing the Lucas County Board of Elections. Lucas County voters say they drop their ballots in the dropbox, and days later, the online system still says their ballots have not been received.

Lucas County Board of Elections director LaVera Scott says the ballots are not processed on a first-come, first-serve basis. The ballots get shuffled around in the box or in the mail. Some could be processed in a matter of hours, some could take a few days.

Lucas County is receiving thousands of ballots a day, and the box is emptied multiple times every day to keep up.

But this election is short-staffed, so workers are not getting through all those ballots on the same day they’re received.

But Scott promises that those votes will be counted.

“I can assure people that before the statutory deadlines, of course, all of our ballots have to be processed, they have to be receipted because they have to be scanned,” says Scott.

As of 7:00 last night, more than 54,000 ballots have been cast in Lucas County, and more than 34,000 of those were absentee ballots.

Between mail delays, ballot vendor backups, and even worker COVID cases, the Lucas County Board of Elections has faced its share of challenges. But, as of Monday morning, the shortage of poll workers is the department’s biggest problem.

The pandemic creates a need for more workers than usual but has also caused fewer people to volunteer than normal.

The board is processing more absentee ballots than in the last election, and voter turnout is higher than in 2016.

The board also attempted to alleviate the workload by outsourcing the printing of absentee ballots but had to move the job back in-house after the contractor experienced delays. Now, this year’s election workers are working hard to pick up the slack.

“Our staff is doing an excellent job, and I won’t say that they aren’t. I see what they’re doing. I know they’re working 12 hour days. I know they’re working 6-7 days a week. They’re doing their jobs,” says Scott.

Election jobs are paid and flexible. To apply, visit the Board of Elections' website.

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