COLUMBUS (WCMH)–The November General Election is 101 days away. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has offered absentee voting already, and wants to encourage in-person voting at the polls.
Counties have had a difficult time getting volunteers to work the polls in recent years, and most of the workers have fallen into the high risk range of health concerns when it comes to COVID-19.
To ease that condition, LaRose asked the Ohio Supreme Court to allow lawyers to earn continuing legal education hours by working the polls. Wednesday, the court agreed:
(A) In light of the circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic, theOhio Supreme Court
applicable Gov.Bar R. X rules and regulations, specifically including Gov.Bar R. X(6)(A) and Appendix I, Reg. 406(A) shall be waived solely for purposes of each of Ohio’s boards of elections’ PEO training and the attorney or judge requesting credit working for their county board of elections as a PEO on Election Day 2020. (B) Attorneys and judges who complete their county board of elections’ PEO training and work for their county board of elections as a PEO on Election Day 2020 may be granted up to four hours of CLE credit. Unless there is good cause shown, to be awarded the CLE credit, an attorney or judge must actually serve for a full day as a poll worker on election day.
“Ohio attorneys have a long record of public service,” Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor said. “I can think of no greater opportunity for lawyers in Ohio to give back to our state than to get involved on election day and help fill the urgent need for poll workers.”
Secretary LaRose responded in a news release.
“Safe and accessible in-person voting is essential, and that requires large numbers of dedicated poll workers who will deliver accurate, accessible, secure, elections for their fellow Ohioans,” Secretary LaRose said. “The smart, hard-working, patriotic men and women who practice law in our state are ideally suited for this crucial public service.”
You do not have to be a lawyer to serve your community as an election worker. You can volunteer by visiting the SOS website here.
Franklin County Board of Elections was happy to hear of the news. In its own news release, it touted that Ohio is the first state in the country to take this innovative approach.
“It’s fantastic news that lawyers can receive CLE credit for serving their community as poll workers – it’s a win-win”, said Director Ed Leonard, who is an attorney. The BOE is always looking to recruit new professionals to step up and serve their community and this is a perfect opportunity. Poll workers play a vital role in running elections here in Franklin County and across Ohio.”
Franklin County need upwards of 5,000 poll workers to staff 330 voting locations. There are currently more than 49,000 licensed attorneys in Ohio.