Overtime hours pile up at elections office

(Posted Nov. 16, 2016)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Overtime hours are adding up at the Madison County Board of Elections.

Staffers worked 60 to 70 hours a week each of the four weeks leading up to the Nov. 8 general election, and they continue to work overtime to meet post-election deadlines.

On Nov. 14, the Madison County commissioners advanced $37,500 from the election revenue fund to cover overages related to the election. Of that, $22,300 went to salaries and $15,200 went to contract services, including delivery of voting equipment to polls, ballot coding, and technical support.

An increase in absentee ballots cast in-person at the board office account for some of the overtime costs, said Tim Ward, elections board director.

Individuals who choose to vote absentee can do so by mail or in person at the board office prior to Election Day. Either way, they must fill out an absentee application. When done at the board office, the application process takes about six minutes. By comparison, Ward said, check-in at the polls on Election Day takes 30 seconds.

The board office processed 6,283 absentee ballots in the Nov. 8 election, both cast in-person and by mail. While this total is comparable to that of the presidential election in 2012, the number of absentee ballots cast in person was up by 300.

“There was an hour-long line every single moment… for early (absentee) in-office voting,” Ward said, noting that the longest wait reported at the polls on Election Day was 25-minutes and most were only a few minutes, if any.

Because his staff was serving an increased number of voters during regular office hours, they stayed after hours to catch up on other election work, Ward said.

Directives from the Secretary of State also account for some of the overtime. Board offices were required to stay open extended hours the weekend after the election to allow voters a chance to correct mistakes involving identification on their absentee ballot envelopes. The same went for individuals who didn’t have identification when they cast ballots at the polls.

Voters in these situations have seven days after the election to correct the mistakes. This is the first time, however, elections boards were required to hold weekend hours for this purpose, Ward said.

Also by state directive, elections boards must complete their official canvass and certification of the votes by Nov. 23. Originally, Madison County planned to be done by Nov. 29.

The Board of Elections is located at 1423 State Route 38 SE, London, just north of Fairhaven School. Regular hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For elections information, call (740) 852-9424 or visit http://electionsonthe.net/oh/madison/.

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