COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The clock is ticking at Ohio’s boards of elections, where preparations for the August special election are underway.

Employees of the state’s 88 county boards of elections are tasked with a lengthy to-do list this summer: narrowing down voting locations, recruiting poll workers, and printing and mailing ballots for the Aug. 8 election. On top of that, election workers must validate signatures for two hot-button issues – abortion and marijuana – that are poised to earn a spot on the November ballot.

“It’ll be all hands on deck,” said Aaron Sellers, a spokesperson for the Franklin County Board of Elections.

Approved in a party-line vote by state lawmakers last month, the August election will pose one question to voters: whether it should be harder to amend the state constitution, from the existing simple majority of 50% plus one vote to a supermajority of 60%.

Legislators fast-tracked a resolution authorizing the Aug. 8 election for the constitutional amendment question in order to get ahead of the reproductive rights initiative eyed for the November ballot. It marked a flip-flop from their decision five months earlier to nix most August special elections due to the low statewide voter turnout of 8%, a $25 million price tag, and strain on election workers.

“Forcing the same amount of staff to conduct one or more elections at the same time could lead to balls being dropped, it could lead to delays in voters receiving the information they need,” Frankie DiCarlantonio, an Ohio Association of Election Officials trustee, told state lawmakers before they approved an Aug. 8 election.

Though Sellers said some disappointment circulated among Franklin County election workers the night Secretary of State Frank LaRose greenlit the August election – the second they’ll have to administer in two years – staff seamlessly shifted back into election gear.

“That’s spilt milk in terms of office morale,” Sellers said. “Everybody’s here and is ready to pull off another successful, countywide election.”

But unlike in past years, Sellers said 25 of the county’s 307 regular polling locations are unable to accommodate voters on Aug. 8, forcing the board of elections to temporarily change the polling place of about 7% of the county’s registered voters.

In Athens County, election workers anticipate a similar fate for some of their polling locations, according to Tony Brooks II, deputy director of the county’s board of elections. For instance, the Dairy Barn Arts Center may be unavailable as an Election Day polling place because it hosts summer camp every year.

“You know to roll with the punches,” Brooks said. “It’s part of the job.”

Athens County is aiming to recruit about 200 poll workers, a significant drop from its typical staffing levels as election officials anticipate low voter turnout – in line with previous August elections, Brooks said. 

Rounding up its goal of 400 poll workers before Aug. 8 shouldn’t be a problem for the Licking County Board of Elections, according to Director Brian Mead. The majority of the county’s poll workers are tried-and-true, he said, so extensive training won’t be necessary.

Though Mead said he expects voter turnout to remain relatively low in August, he thinks more Ohioans, maybe between 25 and 30%, will appear at the polls than in last year’s special election given the salient nature of the proposed constitutional amendment.

“There’s strong feelings on both sides, and you know, let your voice be heard by voting,” Mead said. “We would love to see a large turnout.”

The deadline to register to vote in Ohio’s Aug. 8 special election is July 10, Sellers said.