With absentee ballot requests up 120% in Hamilton Co., the BOE wants you to know how secure such ballots are
It's trying to do that through a series of videos on social media and a behind-the-scenes tour, which WVXU went on.
It's a month-and-a-half until the November election, and Hamilton County Board of Elections Deputy Director Alex Linser says there’s been a 120% increase in application requests for absentee ballots since 2018.
“It’s for the political observers to gesticulate on just why that’s going on," Linser says. "We have seen an increase in vote by mail since 2020 — which was the COVID election — and when a lot of people learned how to vote by mail, they learned the convenience of being able to do that. So, every election since then, we’ve seen higher vote by mail numbers."
There’s also been an uptick in the number of public records requests for the 2020 election. The BOE has gotten 204 public records requests this year for the 2020 election — more than a quarter of them in the last month. Many of those requests are for copies of all of the ID envelopes from mail ballots in that election. But once people find out it will cost them $75,000, they don't follow through with the request.
“Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been getting about three requests a day," Linser says. "It’s starting to slow down a little bit, but there was a flurry of activity starting about two or three weeks ago.”
Inside the 'cage'
The Hamilton County Board of Elections wants to assure the public the process of collecting and counting ballots is secure. It's trying to do that through a series of videos on social media and a behind-the-scenes tour
How do we know that each and every ballot is counted correctly during an election? The answer is Logic & Accuracy testing. We scan hundreds of “test ballots” through our secure computer, tabulate & conduct a hand count of the same ballots, & compare the results! pic.twitter.com/mwZLrS29k0— Hamilton County BOE (@VoteHamCoBOE) September 15, 2022
Linser and Board of Elections Director Sherry Poland explain when ballots arrive, they’re kept in the “cage,” a floor-to-ceiling fenced-in area of the BOE warehouse. Two security card swipes are required to get in — one from a Republican and one from a Democrat. Cameras watch who comes in and out, and people wanting entrance have to sign in and out.
Other security measures are in place for the Vote Count Room. Here’s another place where a Republican and a Democrat both must swipe their security cards to open the door.
Inside that room, there's no Internet, so on election night, workers have to put the information on a thumb drive and then run it over to the IT department before updating the BOE website.
Poland is predicting a 58% turnout or higher. That's what she saw in 2018.