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Jefferson County poll workers caught up in confusion

STEUBENVILLE — A whirlwind series of events left poll workers across Ohio wondering if they needed to report to their precincts on Tuesday.

As it turned out, they did not.

The final word of postponement came down over night after a series of statements and court rulings Monday left the status of the primary election that had been set to take place Tuesday in limbo.

Locally, Diane Gribble, the director of the Jefferson County Board of Elections, said the challenge was getting that information to the county’s poll workers in a timely manner.

“It was a lot of confusion (Monday) night,” Gribble said. “But, after it was all said and done, everything was handled. It all worked out.

“Getting all the poll workers notified, that was quite a challenge. Especially since the information changed quite a few times. It was confusing to voters and poll workers alike. I believe the information was out there in the best amount of time that we could provide it to everyone.”

With the polls set to open at 6:30 a.m., the Ohio Supreme Court was still hearing a case regarding the election as late as 1:30 a.m.

Gov. Mike DeWine recommended Monday that the election be postponed until June 2 due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19.

Monday evening, a Franklin County judge denied the order, seemingly putting the election back on as scheduled. However, Monday night, DeWine and Ohio Health Department Director Dr. Amy Acton put out a statement ordering the polling locations closed due to a health emergency.

Gribble said the June 2 date has tentatively been set by Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, but it is still early in the process.

“Right now, all we know is the election is postponed,” Gribble said. “Secretary LaRose gave the tentative date of June 2. That is the tentative date we were told. That is all we know.”

According to information on the secretary of state’s website, in-person voting will take place on June 2, absentee ballots can be requested up until May 26 and they must be postmarked no later than June 1.

All votes submitted by mail or in person prior to Tuesday will count and only those registered by the Feb. 18 deadline will be eligible to vote.

Gribble said the county board of elections is processing requests for mail-in ballots and that there will not be any more in-person early voting.

“We are proceeding with providing absentee ballot applications for anyone who is calling asking for them,” Gribble said.

“They will be processed and ballots will be mailed to them. There is no in-person voting at all at this point.”

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