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Belmont County ballot set for May 2, security tightens

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Preparations are underway for the May 2 primary election and the Belmont County Board of Elections is reviewing new laws to further tighten security.

Election Director Aaron Moore reported to the elections board this week.

“We certified the candidates. There is no contested races in Martins Ferry, Bellaire and Barnesville, so there is no need to have a primary election for those races. So what that means is, if it was a vote for one, we only have one Democrat or one Republican, so there is no need for a race, so there’s no differences there, they just move on to the next.”

April 3 is the deadline to register to vote in the May 2 election.

For the Democratic Party, Jack Regis is running for auditor of the city of Martins Ferry; Kristine Davis is running for president of council, Thomas J. Burns for Council at Large and Suzanne Armstrong for Third Ward Council. In Barnesville, Mark A. Lucas is running for council.

For the Republican Party, Susan M. Yeso is running for Martins Ferry treasurer; Paul W. Stecker Jr. is running for law director; Ben Neiman and James Schramm are running for council at large. Robert Hunker is running for 1st Ward council and Bruce Shrodes for 2nd Ward council. In Barnesville, Jacob Hershberger is running for mayor.

Republican James Schybal’s petition for Bellaire councilman was rejected for insufficient signatures.

Moore said two levies and two local liquor options will appear on the ballot.

The Cumberland Trail Fire District will have a replacement levy, which would raise the current 5 mills levy to 6 mills. Officials with the fire department said the added funds will be used to renovate the fire district building and to continue operations.

The village of Barnesville is placing an additional property tax levy on the ballot. The 2-mill, five-year levy would be used for parks and recreation.

In addition, the Cracker Barrel at the Ohio Valley Mall will have a local option for Sunday sales of liquor. The Newellstown Diner in St. Clairsville will have a local option for regular and Sunday liquor sales.

Moore said there are about 11,000 voters able to vote in the coming primary, with 17 precincts open in five sites: the J.B. Martins Recreation Center in St. Clairsville, the Carnes Center, the Glencoe Senior Center, the First Christian Church in Barnesville and the Barnesville Public Library Annex.

There will be three poll workers per precinct rather than the usual four.

The board must comply with laws to tighten election security, however there are still some questions to be answered. Moore said House Bill 458 has changed the acceptable forms of identification.

“It made it you have to have a driver’s license or state-issued identification card, a military ID or a passport,” Moore said. “In the past, people were able to use utility bills, a bank statement, other governmental documents. That is no longer acceptable.”

This will mean adjusting the current ballot envelopes in stock.

“Until we know all the official changes, we don’t want to order all of our stock for all the elections, so what we’re doing right now for the May election, we’re going to order about 5,000 envelopes to keep us over, and if we go over, the state does say we can keep our old envelopes, but we makes sure the correct wording is overtop of it. So we can make a sticker or something so it has the appropriate wording for that,” Moore said.

He said the department is also required to stream the camera feed at the outside drop box, or to archive a recording available upon request. However there are several issues that must be clarified, such as how long they must keep the footage and where it will be stored. Moore said the department’s camera currently retains footage for three months.

“We are figuring out our options. It needs to be a 24/7 camera over the drop box, and that is what we currently have,” Moore said.

“At this point we are anticipating a directive giving us further guidance as to how to make the accommodations,” Deputy Director Kamron Chervenak said.

Moore said he was unsure if the stream would be up for the May election.

He added putting the feed on the department web site would be an advantage, since they were “bombarded” with public records requests during the last election.

“If it streams, they don’t have to request it from us, they can just get on the web site and look,” Moore said.

“During the last election we had a large amount of people doing regular requests, but it’s hard when we’re trying to conduct an election and running an election, at the same time to fulfill the requests,” he said afterward. “We’ll fulfill any request that comes in, it’s just that it’s kind of hard when we’re trying to run an election, get prepared for an election.”

He said the board was able to meet all requests. Chervenak said the office did not keep a running count of how many records requests.

In other matters, the department is also working with the Union Local School District in March to speak to students about registration. Board members noted this could also be an opportunity to recruit poll workers. Election officials will also look into visiting other schools in the future.

“I think we should make a concerted effort to go to a handful of high schools every year,” board member Michael Shaheen said.

The next meeting will be held at 4 p.m. March 27. The reorganization meeting will be held March 2.

The board office is located at 52180 National Road, St. Clairsville.

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