Board of Election Hustles to get Ballots Done after Redistricting
Many Summit County Board of Elections workers had to put in extra hours at the office to get the ballots done in time for overseas voting Jan. 21.
Although all is ready for overseas voting, which starts Jan. 21, elections board workers — including those in Summit County — have had to scramble a bit in the last week or so.
That's because a controversial U.S. congressional redistricting plan wasn't finalized until early January.
"The redistricting was done in time certainly for us to put the correct candidates on the ballots, but we had to go jump through a lot of hoops and took a lot of additional time we wouldn't normally spend getting it done," said Summit County Board of Elections Democratic Deputy Director Kimberly A. Zurz.
It all began with the 2010 U.S. Census. Population loss resulted in Ohio losing two Congressional seats, from 18 to 16. Plans began for redrawing Congressional district in time for the March 6, 2012 primary.
Under threat of a referendum, the state Legislature created a bill that allowed for two primaries; one in March for state representatives and one in June for U.S. Congress and the president.
On Dec. 14, Ohio lawmakers brokered a deal to accept a revised congressional map and a March 6 primary. The costly second primary in June was eliminated.
The Ohio House and Senate redistricting maps were finished. On Jan. 4, Democrats filed a lawsuit with the Ohio Supreme Court over the new Statehouse legislative districts, claiming it heavily favored Republican candidates.
But election board workers across the state then had barely a month to prepare ballots for the March primary. Ballots needed to be ready for Jan. 21, the day when the law requires overseas ballots to be mailed.
That made teams of elections board workers hustle to get everything done in time.
Summit County, which previously had two Congressional districts, now has electors in three Congressional districts.
Elimination of the June primary will save the state about $15 million.
But the redistricting cost the board of elections some cash as far as overtime spent on getting the ballots ready.
"It cost a lot of overtime for our employees to do that extra work," said Zurz."We had to do some things twice ... it certainly made for a more difficult process in that regard. Usually we only have to worry about it every 10 years, but, I feel we got it done and we’re ready to go."
Zurz said she did not have an estimate on how many overtime hours/money was spent getting the ballots ready, but the process usually takes the BOE teams months to complete.
"Our teams worked very hard, there's no question that I'm proud of their work," she said.
View the candidates and issues on the March 6 primary on the two .pdfs attached to this post.