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Voting locations in senior living facilities around Ohio, including 16 in Franklin County, will need to move because of concerns about the spread of COVID-19 on Election Day.
Changing locations will affect about 21,000 registered voters who were eligible to cast ballots at those facilities in Franklin County, said Ed Leonard, director of the Franklin County Board of Elections.
On Monday, elections officials believed that about 75 voting locations around the state would need to move to alternative locations to prevent the spread of the virus to residents who live in senior living facilities. But that swelled to 128 on Tuesday.
The following voting locations in Franklin County will move:
‒ Brookdale Trillium Crossing, 3500 Trillium Crossing, moves to Discover Christian Church, 2900 Martin Road
‒ First Community Village, 1800 Riverside Drive, moves to First Community Church, 1320 Cambridge Blvd.
‒ Friendship Village of Columbus, 5800 Forest Hills Blvd., moves to Vineyard Church of Columbus, 6000 Cooper Road
‒ Jaycee Village Apartments, 5905 Beechcroft Road, moves to St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, 6077 Sharon Woods Blvd.
‒ Mayfair Village Retirement Center, 3011 Hayden Road, moves to Carriage Place Recreation Center, 4900 Sawmill Road
‒ McNaughten Pointe Care Center, 1425 Yorkland Road, moves to Oakmont Elementary School, 5666 Oakmont Drive
‒ Sugar Grove Square, 530 S. State St., moves to Whittier Elementary School, 130 E. Walnut St.
‒ Summit’s Trace Healthcare Center, 935 N. Cassady Ave., moves to Columbus Africentric Early College-Field House, 3201 Allegheny Ave.
‒ The Forum at Knightsbridge, 4625 Knightsbridge Blvd., moves to Winterset Elementary School, 4776 Winterset Drive
‒ Thurber Towers, 645 Neil Ave., moves to Goodale Park Shelterhouse, 120 W. Goodale St.
‒ Village at Westerville, 215 Huber Village Blvd., moves to Pointview Elementary School, 720 Pointview Drive
‒ Wesley Glen, 5155 N. High St., moves to Scarlet City Church, 114 Morse Road
‒ Whetstone Gardens and Care Center, 3700 Olentangy River Road, moves to Northwest Christian Church, 1340 Fishinger Road
‒ Worthington Christian Village, 165 Highbluffs Blvd., moves to Lazelle Woods Recreation Center, 8140 Sancus Blvd.
‒ Hampton Woods, 2819 E. Dublin-Granville Road, moves to North Park Church of Christ, 4938 Westerville Road
‒ Cherry Blossom Apartment, 5225 Cherry Creek Parkway N, moves to St. Cecilia Church, 434 Norton Road
Voters affected by a change in their polling location will be notified by mail. The original polling places will have signs on Election Day directing voters to the correct location.
Voters also can check their polling location online at voteohio.gov/coronafacts.
Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. for Ohio’s primary election March 17.
The 128 Ohio polling places being moved represent about 3.4% of the state’s 3,658 polling sites. Lists of all 128 location changes and the number of voters affected by them were not immediately available Tuesday.
Gov. Mike DeWine announced the change during a Monday news conference in which Ohio’s first cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, were confirmed. Three people in Cuyahoga County had tested positive for the virus as of Monday.
Elderly people are among those groups considered at high risk from the virus, which has infected more than 109,000 people worldwide and killed nearly 4,000, according to the World Health Organization.
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said elections officials have been sharing information to plan for virus prevention for several weeks. County boards of election have been stocking up on hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes to clean voting equipment between voters.
Franklin County election officials are having trouble finding hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes for all 346 voting locations in the county before polls open, said Aaron Sellers, the board’s spokesman.
“Incredibly, it’s way more expensive than it was a month ago for that type of stuff,” he said.
Franklin County already has tissues and educational signs about preventing the spread of germs for its polling places, Sellers said. It also bought plastic gloves for poll workers who want to use them.
Moving the polling places out of senior living facilities could insulate residents from an influx of people who could spread the virus to them.
DeWine said Monday that the state also needs to assess whether schools that are used as voting locations on Election Day should not be polling places. Leonard said that is unrealistic in Franklin County, where 104 of the 346 voting locations are in schools. LaRose said it would be “impractical.”
The board’s director and deputy director sent messages to poll workers to try to soothe fears about the spread of the virus on Election Day. The email pointed out that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “considers the risk to the general public to be low.” Poll workers were encouraged to take hand sanitizer with them to their voting locations.
Sellers said Franklin County has a group of standby poll workers who could replace those who don’t show up on Election Day.
“We don’t want to scare people, so that’s why we’re always trying to strike the right tone,” he said. “Those people we have here, we can send out to locations that may need some additional help.”
LaRose said he expects that some poll workers might choose not to work on Election Day, but they should notify officials of their absence sooner rather than later.
“A no-call, no-show is not acceptable,” LaRose said.
He’s encouraging people, especially veterans and state employees, to sign up to work at voting stations. The website to sign up is ohiosos.gov/defenddemocracy.
“It’s important for poll workers to understand it will be a safe environment on Election Day,” LaRose said. “It is safe to be a poll worker.”
Elections staff members also are working with the senior living facilities to ensure that their residents can vote without leaving the facility, Leonard said.
“Our staff is going to make certain, and they’re coordinating with them now on how we vote those folks without going outside of their facility. What we don’t want is outside people coming to their facility,” he said.
Dispatch Public Affairs Editor Darrel Rowland and Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Jackie Borchardt contributed to this story.
Read the original article here.