The Ohio Supreme Court has unanimously approved a novel plan that would turn Ohio lawyers into volunteer poll workers for a day at general election sites on Nov. 3. In return, participating attorneys would earn credit toward their mandatory continuing education obligations.
“Ohio attorneys have a long record of public service,” Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor declared. “I can think of no greater opportunity for lawyers in Ohio to give back to our state than to get involved on election day and help fill the urgent need for poll workers.”
Lawyers in Ohio are required to earn 24 continuing legal education credits – known as CLE – every two years by attending live and online programs accredited by the Ohio Supreme Court’s Commission on Continuing Legal Education.
To earn their four credit hours, volunteer attorneys must complete training at their county board of elections and they must work the entire voting day.
The Ohio Supreme Court’s action, which required a one-time rule change, was taken in conjunction with Secretary of State Frank LaRose, the state’s top election official, who is working on ways to staff the polls this year during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ohio needs 35,000 poll workers for the general election.
“Our system of government relies on the strength of our democracy, and the strength of our democracy depends on the accuracy, accessibility, security, and overall success of our elections,” LaRose said. “The importance of recruiting enough quality poll workers to accomplish this goal cannot be understated.”
Ohio is believed to be the first state to ask attorneys to work the polls in return for mandatory education credits.
Poll volunteers in Ohio begin work at 5:30 a.m. The polls open at 6:30 and close at 7:30 p.m., when administrative closing procedures begin.
As of today, there were 43,911 licensed attorneys in Ohio.
“Attorneys are ideally suited to serve our state as poll workers,” LaRose said. “Their attention to detail and ability to quickly grasp the nuances of the responsibility make them ideal candidates to be on the front lines of our democratic process.”
Original article posted here.