NORWOOD, Ohio — Impressive reviews of early voting in Hamilton County has led to some big spending to say “thank you” to elections employees, and voters can expect to see some changes from the 2020 election implemented going forward.
"I don't know that we've ever received so much positive feedback from our voters,” said Board of Elections Director Sherry Poland.
This year, many elections employees worked 75-hour weeks on average for months to ensure fair elections, and that means a big payoff for Hamilton County's 44-person staff in the form of overtime pay, more space and extra time off.
"I'd just like to say that this is the least that we could do,” Poland said.
Because of that feedback, the board of elections also sees three factors exciting voters: location, space and parking.
Early voting surged after the board moved operations to 4700 Smith Rd in Norwood, which is central to much of the county. In fact, early voting has increased for three years, but never more than this fall.
With the threat of coronavirus, staff also had to open a center big enough to keep voters six feet apart and handle moving hundreds of people in and out quickly.
To do that, they rented a 15,000-square-foot warehouse to use as an early voting center. The new rental came with plenty of free parking spaces, and officers were hired to help traffic flow.
Because of positive feedback on extra space and better parking, the county plans to rent the warehouse for the next five years. The board is still negotiating numbers with the facility's landlord.
"It's the voters and the community and taxpayer dollars, and we want to spend that money wisely, and if that's something that helps voters, this is what they want then we're going to put funding,” she said.
"It's something that Hamilton County voters definitely want."
Voters will see all of it again as soon as next spring.