Coronavirus keeps League of Women Voters at home, but online registration surges

Posted at 8:18 PM, Aug 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-31 11:56:24-04

CINCINNATI — Voter registrations are soaring in most Tri-State counties, but that comes with complications.

The coronavirus handicaps old-school registration drives and the workaround puts Cincinnati's League of Women Voters in an unusual position.

Instead of working the crowds at big Tri-State events, the LWV is keeping its distance.

"You can see I'm one of those vulnerable people that they're saying to stay home,” said Pinky Kocoshis, LWV co-president. “So most of us are not willing to go out where we used to be at Washington Park or downtown. Wherever there was an event, we would be there. This year we're not doing as much of that."

Instead, the coronavirus is pushing people online to the Hamilton County Board of Elections website, where voters can register or change their address or name.

While other groups like the NAACP mask up and move ahead with face-to-face drives, Hamilton County still has fewer paper registrations.

In Warren County, "We've seen a large increase in both,” said BOE Director Brian Sleeth.

Sleeth, a member of Ohio's Ready for November Task Force, said his office registered 4,000 new voters since April's primary. That’s almost double the primary-to-general election increase they saw in 2016.

And with record numbers of vote-by-mail applications pouring in, it is welcome.

"We prefer the online registration,” said Sleeth. “That's all pre-filled information saving us … time from typing it in from beginning to end."

In Kentucky, Kenton County's clerk says their registration activity is mostly digital and involves changes in address or political party.

Election boards expect no slowdown between now and the Oct. 5 registration deadline - just more voter drives detoured by the pandemic.