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Scarpone appointed chair of board of elections

Gentile and Martin added to board

STEUBENVILLE — Among the first orders of business at Tuesday morning’s reorganization meeting of the Jefferson County Board of Elections was the appointment of a new chairman – Brian Scarpone.

Scarpone, a Republican, was nominated by new board member Tom Gentile and approved unanimously during the meeting held inside the second floor meeting room at the Jefferson County Tower.

Scarpone is the chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party executive committee, a position he also took over recently.

With Board of Elections Director Bob Gale being a member of the Democrat Party, the chair has to be a member of the Republican Party.

Matt Parise previously served as the chairman. Scarpone also succeeded him with the county GOP.

The board’s makeup also changed, with the additions of Gentile, vice chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party executive committee and former Jefferson County commissioner, and Robert Martin Sr., chairman of the Jefferson County Democrat Party and president of Wintersville Village Council.

Board members are appointed every two years by their parties, Gale said.

Democrat Frankie DiCarlantonio also remains on the four-member board.

Also approved during the reorganization portion of the meeting were the procedural appointments of two-year terms of Gale as director and Mary Birkhimer as deputy.

Gale replaced long-time director Diane Gribble, who retired following the November election.

During the regular portion of the meeting, focus shifted to the upcoming primary and special election that will be held on May 4.

Gale detailed to the two new board members what their duties will be as board members during an election period.

“You basically help where we need you,” Gale said, noting that during the challenging November election, board members rotated helping the office staff. “We couldn’t have done it without everyone. We all work together.”

He noted being new and with the upcoming election being small in scale, the new board members will be able to learn by following the lead of others.

Gale also pointed out he, himself, is new, having learned a lot by working with Gribble during the November election.

Birkhimer detailed to the board the procedural actions they take on election day.

Ballot quantities and the allocation of poll station equipment was approved by the board. Gale said the board is required to have ballots available for 101 percent of possible voters.

Some 18 precincts will be open on election day, currently with 16,924 registered voters. The motion approved by the board was to print a total of 17,800 ballots.

“I’m calculating that 15 percent of our ballots will be absentee or in office,” Gale said, noting the election will be much different in scale than the one in November.

He said he ordered a larger number of ballots for the two precincts in Steubenville that will have Democrat primary candidate races.

Early voting for the election begins on April 6. The last day to register to vote in the election is April 5, on which it was noted the board office will have special hours until 9 p.m. as mandated by the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.

The board also approved the dates and times of training sessions for poll workers for the election, four sessions. Gentile and Martin were encouraged by Birkhimer to attend at least one training to learn how the process works.

A total of 72 poll workers will be working during the election.

“We are in the process now of contacting all poll workers for this election,” Gale said.

It was also noted that the election will continue to operate under COVID-19 guidelines. Birkhimer said the office still has plenty of needed supplies from the November election to meet the safety requirements.

“We don’t have to purchase anything,” she said.

Gale informed the board that he was able to get the office’s budget under the number requested by the Board of County Commissioners during county budget hearings. The office’s budget will be more than $794,000.

Also discussed were ways the board of elections can use funds from the state HAVA Grant, which the office received an extension on the use deadline.

It was suggested by members of the board to discuss the use of $13,500 from the grant to improve the parking lot with county maintenance supervisor Patrick Boyles. Also, a $5,200 portion will be used to pay OMERESA in advance for services.

The board also gave recommendations on sign designs for the board office on new sign display that are being constructed for the Jefferson County Tower.

The next board meeting will be held on April 12.

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