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Polls moved from senior care facilities

Special voting hours

LISBON — The county Board of Elections announced special hours for those wishing to vote in person at the office prior to the March 17 election: March 12 and 13, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; March 14, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; March 15, 1-5 p.m.; March 16, 8 a.m. to noon, which is when early voting ends.

Noon March 14 is the deadline for absentee ballot requests, and absentee ballots must be postmarked by March 16.

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LISBON — Four senior residential/elder care facilities that serve as polling places for five precincts are being moved because of coronavirus concerns.

With less than a week until the March 17 election, the county Board of Elections met Wednesday to officially move polling places in Columbiana, Salem, Wellsville and Perry Township to other locations, which are as follows:

Columbiana: Harmony Village serves as the polling place for voters in precinct 36. Their new polling place is the Columbiana Public Library.

Salem: The Smith Center serves as the polling place for voters in precincts 12 and 13. The new polling place for both is the Memorial Building.

Perry Township: Blossom Nursing Home serves the polling place for voters in precinct 60. The new polling place is the Perry Township Road Department.

Wellsville: Gateway West/Shoub Towers serves as the polling place for voters in precinct 83. They are to vote at the Wellsville High School.

Approximately 3,637 registered voters will be affected by the moves, which were ordered by Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose. All election boards were advised late Monday to move polling places if they were in a senior citizen residential facility or nursing home. Older people and those with chronic medical conditions are the most susceptible to the coronavirus.

Elections board director Kim Fusco said she was making these recommendations with reluctance because of the confusion and hardship it creates for voters in those precincts and her staff in carrying out the changes at this late date.

“I really don’t want to do this … My original advice to you was not to move any because of the hysteria,” she said.

“But if the directive is to protect seniors this has to be done,” said board chairman David Johnson. “We’ve got to be proactive and follow the directive and do it with calm …”

The board had postcards prepared in advance that were mailed immediately after the meeting advising the 3,637 affected voters of the polling place changes, and Fusco hopes they will arrive in time. Signs will also be posted on the entrance to their old polling place advising voters who show up Tuesday of the change. The information is also be posted on the election board’s Facebook page.

In addition to obvious impact on voters, Fusco said the changes mean more work for the workers who set up the voting equipment at the polling place and for poll workers too. They could also see more in-person early voting at the board office.

Deputy director Bryce Miner said they will also make two more voting assistance teams available on election day should they be called to any of the four senior residential/elder care facilities affected by the polling place changes. Residents there who held off voting until election day may not be able to make it to their new polling place. If that were to occur a voting team consisting of one Democrat and one Republican would go there to help the resident cast their ballot.

Fusco is most concerned that some of those residents will miss out voting on election day because they did not learn of the changes until it was too late or are unable to get to their new polling place.

“They may be disenfranchised if you move them down the road,” she said.

Miner said one of the facility officials told him they intend to transport residents who want to vote to their new polling place on election day.

Johnson was optimistic, saying they have done everything that was expected of them. “It looks like you’re going to have time to do this, but it will be tight,” he said.

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