BOE expects mail-in voting trend

T-L File Photo Belmont County Board of Elections Deputy Director Aaron Moore, clockwise from left, Director McCabe and board members Lois Doneson, Frankie Lee Carnes, Robert Quirk and Michael Shaheen review mail-in ballots cast during last year’s presidential election. The trend toward absentee voting is expected to continue during the coming May 4 primary election.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The Belmont County Board of Elections closed out a successful year in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic and members are now taking stock of how a primary election might be conducted this year.

On Wednesday, Director Kelly McCabe said the board received a check for $44,084,41 from the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office.

“It’s a reimbursement for expenses incurred for the 2020 general election,” she said. “It was in addition to our (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act) grant money that we received earlier. That grant money was $54,206. This was in addition to that, for other expenses. That covered a lot of our extra expenses.”

The machine allocation for the coming May 4 primary election was also accepted. About 45 ballot scanners and 30 electronic poll books will be on hand to send to Belmont County’s polling locations.

“We don’t know yet if we’re having a primary, but we have to do that,” she said, adding it is unlikely the entire county will be open for voting. “We had to do this in case we had a full-blown county election.”

The filing deadline to place an issue on the primary ballot is 4 p.m. Feb. 3.

“It’ll be a much smaller scale. Unless there’s something countywide filed, all the precincts won’t even be open if we have a primary,” she said, adding that she had not been made aware of any possible primary issues.

Last year, the planned March 17 primary election was stalled at the last minute when Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health ordered polling locations closed as a precaution against the rapidly spreading COVID-19. After that point, voting was done entirely by mail and completed a few weeks later. The general election on Nov. 3 included a high percentage of mail-in ballots. McCabe said she expects this trend to continue.

“We have a good turnout for mail. We always have a good turnout for (early, in-person) absentee voting,” she said. “Our county was already using that before 2020. I look for it to get bigger and have more interest.”

Also, precautions against coronavirus infection will remain in place.

“We’ll continue with our PPE being sent out if we do have a primary,” she said. “I’m sure probably in November we’ll still be sending that out. I imagine even with the vaccine … we’ll still be using it.”

The board will hold a special meeting at 4 p.m. Feb. 10 to award a bid for printing the primary ballot and to certify any candidate or issue petitions received by Feb. 3.

The next regular meeting is at 4 p.m. Feb. 22. Both session will be held at board headquarters, located at 52180 National Road, St. Clairsville.


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