COLUMBUS -- The Ohio Supreme Court issued an order allowing Ohio attorneys to receive required continuing legal education credit for serving as precinct election officials on Election Day on Nov. 3.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose said the court's decision supports his "Ready for November" initiative by recruiting new poll workers to ensure voters have a safe, secure and fair election.
“Safe and accessible in-person voting is essential, and that requires large numbers of dedicated poll workers who will deliver accurate, accessible, secure, elections for their fellow Ohioans,” LaRose said.
“The smart, hard-working, patriotic men and women who practice law in our state are ideally suited for this crucial public service," he said.
Across the state's 88 county boards of elections have historically relied on 35,000 workers to operate voting locations and assist voters with casting a ballot.
With more than 65 percent of Ohio poll workers being age 61 or over, there is a concern that many may choose not to serve this November due to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on older populations, LaRose said.
"Currently, there are over 49,000 licensed attorneys in Ohio who are ideally suited to serve our communities as poll workers," he 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. Attorneys in Ohio are required to complete 24 hours of continuing legal education every two years.
Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor said the state's attorneys have a long record of public service.
“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," O'Connor said.
LaRose said his office petitioned the court for this change beginning last year. The order Wednesday by the Ohio Supreme Court makes a temporary rule change to allow any Ohio attorney who serves as a poll worker to receive continuing legal education credits.
LaRose said the order makes Ohio the first state in the nation to take this approach to strengthening elections and better preparing for November.
Lawyers interested in serving can sign up to be a poll worker at VoteOhio.gov/DefendDemocracy.