MOUNT VERNON — The Knox County Board of Elections discussed complaints received about attire at the polls May 7, but took no action. They decided that Board of Elections Director Kim Horn and the precinct judges had taken appropriate action on the incidents, which were adequately addressed by current regulations and law.
The board also certified the results of the May 7 election and toured the rooms the board will be using for equipment storage after moving out of the room to be occupied by the new 9-1-1 call center.
Complaints were received that at the Gallagher Centre polling place, teachers attending a meeting were wearing “I (heart) MV Schools” T-shirts and using the same entrance to the building and had their registration area set up too close to the polling location.
According to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, current Ohio law and regulations mean that all persons entering the polling place should remove or cover all campaign attire or paraphernalia before entering.
Horn said that when the teachers, who were attending their annual end-of-the-year banquet to honor retiring teachers, were approached, they agreed to use another entrance to the center and for teachers near the polling place to direct attendees to the banquet, would remove or reverse their shirts.
The other complaints also involved the Mount Vernon T-shirts, but in those cases being worn by someone coming to vote.
Again, poll worked asked those poll to cover up, remove or reverse the shirts, which they did. However, in at least one case a person became belligerent about the issue and had to be calmed down.
Horn said that on election day, the I (heart) Mount Vernon shirts would be considered electioneering and therefore not to be worn because that was the phrase associated with the entire school levy campaign. However, something like a Mount Vernon soccer shirt or football jersey would not be considered campaign material.
Board member Adam Gilson seemed to sum up the feeling of the board in that it would be impossible to write a directive that could cover all possibilities. Instead, precinct judges should be able to exercise their best judgment in determining if a shirt or phrase is inappropriate.
“It comes down to doing what’s reasonable,” Gilson said.
Two poll workers who had incidents at their polling places attended, but none of the people who filed complaints attended.
Moody commented, “I think we have the instructions we need, but we need to make sure poll workers have the training to handle similar situations.”
The board certified the election results, which showed no change in results from the unofficial election night results. Numbers were changed slightly as the result of provisional ballots being counted.
Of 71 provisional ballots cast, 60 were approved as legitimate votes, while 11 were rejected.
The board visited the storage areas in the basement. Most of the board’s material has been moved out of what will be the 9-1-1 call center.
There is room to store everything in the new rooms, but some work, such as testing machines or packing precinct bags, may need to be done in the hallway.
Whether the new space is adequate for their needs “has not been put to the test yet, but we’ll see in November.”
Moody said it’s up to the commissioners to allocate space in the building so “we’ll have to make the best of it.”
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