Polling location to open in Urbancrest

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By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

Since the summer, access to the Vaughn E. Hairston YMCA has been limited to children, students and instructors participating in day-care or other school-related programs to slow the spread of a novel coronavirus. But that restriction will soon be temporarily lifted to allow the community to exercise – their right to vote, that is.

With the Nov. 3 election approaching, residents in the village of Urbancrest began to question whether the community center that has served as their polling site since 2008 would be available for them to use. Recently, it was announced that it will be.

“Having a polling location in the village is a tremendous benefit for our community,” said Mayor Joseph Barnes Sr. “And this year, with everything that is going on with mail-in voting and absentee ballots, it was of the upmost importance that this location be open for us to use.”

He said he began discussing the issue with county election officials more than three weeks ago. He added that while he did not think the village’s ability to be able to vote at the community center was ever truly in doubt, it was reassuring when the election officials gave it the green light.

According to Barnes, there will be three voting machines located within the community center. To adhere to safety guidelines, they will be spaced out accordingly to allow for physical distancing. There will also be some changes to the way operations are conducted on Election Day, which will primarily affect those working at the polls.

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Ohio Department of Health and Secretary of State Frank LaRose collaborated to create a 48-point voting safety plan for each of the 88 county board of elections. The plan set forth requirements for the board of elections, as well as recommendations for voters, for how to run a safe and healthy election.

Included in the plan are routine cleaning of voting machines and e-poll books; mask requirements and regular hand washing for all poll workers; and social distancing recommendations within the poll locations.

Voters will be encouraged to wear a mask, but they cannot be turned away should they choose not to wear a facial covering.

In-person voting hours on Nov. 3 will be held from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Voters will need to bring a valid form of identification. Those can include a non-expired state driver’s license with current address, a military ID card, a bank statement or utility bill; and a government check or a paycheck. Other government documentation is acceptable, but the name and address on the government document must conform to the voter’s name as it appears in the Poll List or Poll Book, and the document must be current within 12 months of the Election Day for which the voter is presenting it for the purpose of voting.

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