Thousands Of Poll Workers Confused By Conflicting Messages About Primary Postponement

Mar 17, 2020

A court ruling to go ahead with today’s primary and then an order to shut down all 3,600 polling places caused confusion for many Ohioans – but maybe no group was more affected than the tens of thousands of people set to work the polls.

For the last six elections, Jim McKee has taken a vacation day to be a poll worker in Franklin County. He heard a judge ruled that the primary would not be delayed – but right after that got an automated text from the board saying the election had been postponed to June 2. Other poll workers got the same message.

“The fact that it was so immediate was very confusing too – the judge ruled and less than two minutes later, the board of elections was saying the opposite of what he had just ruled. So I wasn’t sure, should I set my alarm clock for 4am?”

He got three more conflicting emails and had no way to contact the board or his manager.  Some boards of elections websites showed the primary was indeed cancelled.

And poll workers across the state said they were also getting conflicting information.

And as the situation changed, some county officials said they were rushing to contact poll workers to make sure they showed up as scheduled.

When McKee woke up at 4, he found out the primary was off and he went to his regular job.

An apology went out on Tuesday to Franklin County poll workers from Board of Elections Director Ed Leonard.

McKee said he’ll work the polls again, but hopes for more clear communication and that he'll be skeptical of what he hears from the board next time.

Some sites reported voters turning up to cast ballots early this morning to find their polling place closed.