The Journal Gazette
Saturday, August 01, 2020 1:00 am

Furthermore ...

Ohio offers an answer on poll shortages

Here's hoping Gov. Eric Holcomb, himself a former lieutenant governor, will heed the call of two of his predecessors, Republican John Mutz and Democrat Kathy Davis, and authorize no-excuse absentee voting for the general election.

As we saw with the June primary elections, many Hoosiers appreciated the opportunity to vote by mail and to avoid waiting in lines at polling sites on Election Day.

But even if the governor and Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson finally do the right thing, state judicial authorities might want to consider a measure to ensure there will be enough poll workers to assist those who cast ballots on Nov. 3.

Anticipating a shortage of poll workers, Ohio recently approved a rule change to grant attorneys who volunteer to work at the polls credit hours for continuing legal education.

 “Ohio attorneys have a long record of public service,” Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor said in a statement. “I can think of no greater opportunity for lawyers in Ohio to give back to our state than to get involved on Election Day and help fill the urgent need for poll workers.”

Ohio attorneys are required to earn 24 continuing legal education credits every two years, generally fulfilled by completing programs accredited by the Ohio Supreme Court's Commission on Continuing Legal Education. Four hours of credit would be available to attorneys who complete poll-worker training at their county board of elections and work the entire day. Polls in Ohio are open 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

“Safe and accessible in-person voting is essential, and that requires large numbers of dedicated poll workers who will deliver accurate, accessible, secure, elections for their fellow Ohioans,” Secretary of State Frank LaRose said in a statement. “[Attorneys'] attention to detail and ability to quickly grasp the nuances of the responsibility make them ideal candidates to be on the front lines of our democratic process.”

Indiana shares the same challenge of relying on poll workers who, in large part, fall within the age group most at risk for complications from COVID-19. Attorneys here are required to complete 36 hours of continuing education over three years.

Our neighboring state has arrived at a fine solution for both the legal community and our civic health.

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