The Stark County Board of Elections will relocate polling locations for the March 17 primary from three senior living facilities.
CANTON The Stark County Board of Elections will relocate three polling locations out of senior living facilities for the March 17 election.
Voters at two Jackson Township precincts and a Massillon precinct will instead vote at nearby polling locations already established for other precincts.
Elections officials across the state are moving the locations to reduce the risk of coronavirus infections to elderly residents.
The pattern of infections around the world indicate seniors and people with underlying health conditions, if they’re infected with COVID-19, are more likely to suffer severe symptoms, which could include death.
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose on Monday ordered county boards of election across the state to move polling locations away from nursing homes and senior citizen residential facilities.
These are the Stark County polling location changes:
Old location: Rose Lane Health Center, 5425 High Mill Ave. NW, in Jackson Township, for voters in the Jackson 23 precinct. Number of affected voters: 1,175.
New location: Crosspoint Methodist Church, 9687 Portage St. NW in Jackson Township, which also serves Jackson 15, 16, 17, 30 and 33 precincts, or 5,476 active voters.
Old location: Canton Regency, 4515 22nd St. NW in Jackson Township, which was for voters in the Jackson 25 precinct. Number of affected voters: 806.
New location: Woodlawn Church, 2800 Woodlawn Ave. NW in Jackson Township, which also serves Jackson 1, 5, 9 and 26 precincts, a total of 3,712 active voters.
Old location: Inn at University Village, 2650 Ohio State Dr. SE, which was for voters in the Massillon 4C precinct. Number of affected voters: 1,157.
New location: Friendship Baptist Church, 920 Third St. SE in Massillon, which also serves Massillon 4A and 4B precinct and serves 1,471 active voters.
The three affected precincts have at least 3,138 active voters, who’ve had some kind of voter activity the past four years, said Travis Secrest, administrative assistant for the Stark County Board of Elections. As of Tuesday, 225 in the affected precincts had requested absentee ballots. Not all active voters are expected to vote in the primary Tuesday.
Secrest said he learned of LaRose’s directive at 5:20 p.m. Monday. He said he quickly called the people who operate Rose Lane Health Center, Canton Regency and Inn at University Village to notify them of that they would no longer be hosting voters.
He said the Board of Elections staff puts together a contingency plan every two years with a list of alternative polling locations in case of an emergency, such as a power outage or natural disaster.
"So we already have plans in place to move polling locations at a moment’s notice," Secrest said. "It’s not like we were caught off guard."
Secrest said the new polling locations for the three affected precincts have sufficient space and large parking lots.
However, those in relocated voting precincts will have to get in separate lines due to the way poll books and voting machines are programmed, Secrest said.
Those who wish to fill out their ballots at home have until noon Saturday for Board of Elections personnel to receive their application for an absentee ballot. The applications must be received in person or by mail at 3525 Regent Ave. NE.
The ballots must be in sealed in signed envelopes and either postmarked by Monday or returned to 3525 Regent Ave. NE in person by 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Secrest said in accordance with a directive from LaRose, Board of Elections staff will be outside by the curb on the Regent Avenue NE office Tuesday to collect absentee ballots so voters will not have to go inside.
In-person early voting at 3525 Regent Ave. NE will be this week through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Then it will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday.
Secrest said the Board of Elections is encouraging voters to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before and after voting to minimize the risk of coronavirus infections.
Secrest said Board of Elections staff scoured stores around the area starting in late February to buy 120 to 150 bottles of Purell hand sanitizer for all 120 polling locations and the Board of Elections office.
He added that manufacturers’ specifications do not recommend the cleaning of touchscreen voting machines or poll books with liquid disinfectants or disinfectant wipes. Cleaning is done with a cloth similar to a lens cloth.
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