HAMILTON COUNTY, Ohio — The November election is just around the corner and local political parties are gearing up.
On Monday, Hamilton County and Ohio Republicans will train volunteers to assist with “election integrity efforts.” According to an email invite, the training will include helping guests find ways to volunteer during the election and sign up to observe polls.
It’s happening at the Hamilton County GOP Headquarters from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
WCPO asked the Hamilton County Democratic Party if they were engaging in similar efforts. In a statement, a representative wrote, “The Hamilton County Democratic Party is talking to our voters by phone, at their door, at events, and in their communities to make sure they know to vote for Democrats this November, as well as how to vote by mail or in person. We trust the Hamilton County Board of Elections to run a free, fair election in November.”
Both Ohio and Kentucky allow political parties to appoint people to observe polls. In Ohio, poll observers can essentially do only what their name implies: observe.
“All they can do is observe,” said Sherry Poland, Hamilton County Board of Elections Director. “They can't challenge someone's right to vote.”
“I think that's important for people to realize,” she added. “People just can't show up and say, ‘I’m here to observe or I'm here to be a poll watcher.’ You actually have to be appointed by one of those authorities.”
“You can't do anything, you can't interfere with anything, can't get in anybody's way,” said University of Cincinnati political science professor Dr. David Niven. “You can watch the process unfold. And if, for example, there were long lines, or voters were having any particular difficulties, you would be empowered to report this.”
Nationwide studies show there’s a lack of strong trust in elections. In January, an ABC News/Ipsos poll found just 20% of the public felt “very confident” in elections.
Since 2020, Poland said the Hamilton County Board of Elections has amped up outreach efforts to better educate the public on how elections are run.
“There's a lot of myths and disinformation out there,” she said.
Poland said bipartisan officials across the state work hard to secure elections. Ohio voting machines are never connected to the internet and counties conduct post-election audits.
If you have doubt about the process, Poland urges you to consider volunteering as a poll worker to learn more. You can find more information or sign up online on your county’s election website.
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