COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Ohio is teaming up with some unlikely partners to prepare for an historic 2020 general election.
Friday, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced a partnership with the Columbus Distributing Company and the Columbus Anheuser-Busch brewery to distribute hand sanitizer to the state’s boards of elections.
“I think it’s wonderful when business and government can come together to create positive outcomes for all Ohioans and this is certainly a great example of that,” said Erik Jenkins, the president of Columbus Distributing Co.
Jenkins’s company helped facilitate manufacturing for Anheuser-Busch in Ohio, as the company collaborated with the National Association of Secretaries of State to bring sanitizer to polls across the country.
“This hand sanitizer is really a special part of what Anheuser-Busch can do to show up to support our local communities,” said Josh Zabek, the general manager for the Columbus Anheuser-Busch brewery.
The almost 3,000 gallons of sanitizer is on top of other personal protective equipment donated by private companies and purchased by CARES Act funding. LaRose explained his office immediately pushed 90 percent of the federal funding to local boards of elections so they could use it to recruit and hire poll workers and stock up on PPE.
“I can say with confidence that when early voting begins in less than two weeks now, we’re going to have the quantities of personal protective equipment that we need. And of course, when the polls open on November 3rd, they’ll have the supplies of personal protective equipment that they need,” he said.
The state expects many Ohio voters to cast their ballots absentee by mail for the general election, but the Secretary of State promises to give voters all traditional in-person options as well. LaRose’s Ready for November Task Force began gathering feedback from local boards of elections and developing safety protocols after the delayed primary election in April.
In addition to recruiting enough poll workers and stocking up on PPE for workers and voters, LaRose explained each polling location is required to follow a 48-point checklist of safety guidelines. Many of the recommendations were informed by the same health advice used to safely operate grocery stores, amusement parks and other public gathering spaces.
LaRose touted the private partnerships for helping boards of elections accomplish their safety goals.
“If you’re comfortable going to the grocery store, you should be comfortable coming to your polling location,” LaRose said. “It’s because of partners like this with Columbus Distributing and Anheuser-Busch that we’re able to say we’re going to have all of the supplies that we need.”
The Ohio Department of Health will help distribute Friday’s sanitizer donation to boards of election before early in-person voting begins October 6th.