A sign on the door of the election poll at Enon Elementary tells voters the election has been postponed Tuesday morning. MARSHALL GORBY/STAFF

With voting postponed, Clark County absentee applications rising

The Clark County Board of Elections received almost 100 applications for absentee voting on Tuesday, the board’s director says, following the governor’s decision to postpone primary voting due to COVID-19 concerns.

Jason Baker, the executive director of the Clark County Board of Elections, said the board took “multiple” phone calls on Tuesday morning from voters and poll workers about primary voting.

“We are doing pretty good, despite the crazy night. We have been receiving multiple phone calls and we have already received almost 100 applications for absentee voting,” Baker said.

MORE: Coronavirus: Clark County to close multiple buildings

Gov Mike DeWine’s administration took extraordinary action late Monday night to halt in-person voting for Tuesday’s primary by issuing a public health order shutting down more than 3,600 polling locations.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton signed an order late Monday after a Franklin County judge denied a request by two voters to delay the election to June 2 but continue absentee voting by mail.

DeWine and Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced Monday afternoon that they believed the evolving, dangerous coronavirus outbreak would put voters and poll workers over 65-years-old and those with health issues at risk of being exposed to the virus.

With primary voting now postponed, the Clark County’s Board of Elections is focused on “letting voters know what’s next,” Baker said.

“We apologize for all of the confusion but we want to ensure that we have a safe and legitimate election,” Baker said. “But what voters should know now is that if they would like an absentee ballot, you may receive one by submitting an application.”

County residents can fill out an application for an absentee ballot online or receive one by mail by calling 937-521-2120. All applications must then be mailed to the board at 3130 E. Main St., PO Box 1766 in Springfield, in a “hard copy format with an original signature, not digital,” Baker said.

“We want to ensure voters that they have the right to vote — they just aren’t voting in person right now,” Baker said.

Mike Varner, a Democratic primary candidate for sheriff in Clark County, said he understands the state’s decision to postpone voting.

MORE: Coronavirus: United Senior Services in Clark County suspends all events

“I have seen that many people are very concerned about their health, safety, their jobs and the economy,” Varner said. “As a nation, we faced some of the same fears after September 11. People are resilient and we will overcome this pandemic, just as we have overcome other trials.”

Clark County Clerk of Courts Melissa Tuttle, who is a Republican primary candidate, said she will continue to campaign until June.

“I know it was not an easy decision to postpone the election, but the health and safety of the public is needed to prevent the spread of this pandemic,” Tuttle said.

In Champaign County, Karen Ward, chairman of Champaign County’s Board of Election, said their board is focused on voter safety.

“Primarily right now we are concerned about the safety of our voters and our staff. But we are focused on providing voting rights to all of our citizens, not just healthy citizens,” Ward said. “We are working towards providing the best service we can to our voters. The office is very well equipped and we will get it done by June.”

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