One of the important ways to love our community is to exercise your right to vote and make a difference. But for many of us, we don’t understand the behind the scenes work that takes place to make it possible. So we are sharing information about the Marion County Board of Elections.
Each of Ohio’s 88 counties has a Board of Elections (BOE) office that is responsible for administering local elections along with many other duties that the general public is likely unaware of. The Secretary of State’s Office provides legal guidance, elections procedures, and campaign finance information to Boards of Elections; and provides training for Board of Elections members and staff.
In Marion County, Cindy Price, Director, and Brian Blair, Deputy Director manage the BOE operations. The two were interviewed and hired by the local governing board which is made up of four community members; they are Lynn Zucker (R) – Chair, Carolyn Weston (D), Chris Smith (D), and Todd Anderson (R). Price and Blair both were hired about a year ago and have enjoyed learning together. The organization is an equal split of democratic and republican representation to ensure fairness and neutrality. All local board members as well as the director and deputy director are reviewed and approved by the Secretary of State office.
The office has two full-time staff and a few seasonal part-time employees. Price and Blair were each assigned a “team-mentor” from other counties for support. In addition, the state offers many training opportunities to assist with education and learning all that they need to know to be successful. There is also a tight network between counties to explore ideas, ask questions, and use each other as a resource when they encounter challenges.
Price and Blair agree that the network is critical to their success. “We are fortunate to have a great staff, a supportive board, support at the state level, and several other counties to call on with questions and support,” Price said of learning the job.
“This job is more than either of us ever imagined. There are so many aspects that people have no idea about. It is intense, but also interesting and fun,” Blair said of his experience so far. “It was helpful that Cindy and I were hired at the same time. We are learning together and have formed a great working relationship. The balanced representation gives you a new view when you hear from all perspectives.”
Beyond the obvious election day duties, the Board of Elections is responsible for a plethora of other important components of the county. The BOE maintains and updates the voter registration information such as newly registered voters, addresses changes, name changes, etc. They write and seek approval of all ballot language and coordinate several aspects of communications between candidates, issues, county officials, and poll workers. The BOE is also responsible for maintaining maps in voting districts and working with other counties where voting districts overlap. They work with petition filings, keep tabs on all elected officials, appointments, resignation, campaign finance reports, and many other things. So, you see, the Board of Elections is a critical part of our county government and provide many services that are behind the scenes.
Price and Blair mentioned repeatedly how grateful they are for their strong, loyal poll-worker-base and seasonal staff. They want the community to know that they are always looking for more poll workers. Each precinct is evenly divided by political party so planning and consideration for fairness and accuracy are carefully considered.
Blair said gratefully of their poll-working staff, “Poll workers do earn a small wage for their time, but it is a long day. They really don’t do it for the money, they do it for the love of the process and politics. They are committed to doing the right thing and they are well trained because they come back year after year.”
Price and Blair have seen so many unique circumstances in just their first year. They have had recounts, a tie vote, and COVID-19 to sight a few of examples.
The Board of Elections office wants you to know that they are here for the Marion County Community. Their door is open and they are available to answer questions, speak to your club or organization, and help educate as many people as possible on the importance of voting.