COLUMBUS, OH. — The Ohio Supreme Court issued an order allowing state attorneys to receive Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit for serving as precinct election officials on Election Day, according to Secretary of State Frank LaRose's office.
Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor said the need for poll workers is a problem they have every election, but amid COVID19, the need is even greater this year.
"The problem is that poll workers, often times, are in the high-risk area when it comes to COVID-19 because many of them are over the age of 60, so the Secretary of State got the brilliant idea to ask attorneys to do it. We have 42,000 plus attorneys in the state," she said.
According to LaRose's office, 65% of poll workers in Ohio are over the age of 61, putting them in the high-risk category for COVID-19.
Attorneys in Ohio have to complete 24 hours of CLE credit every 2 years.
"It's basically a refresher course," said Dean DePiero, an attorney in Northeast Ohio. "It’s a good refresher on different areas on the law and it’s a good opportunity to catch up on new court rulings and those types of things," he said.
Under this order, if they volunteer to work the precincts on Election Day, they can earn up to 4 of those 24 needed credits.
"I think lawyers generally are very civic-minded," DePiero said. "The cornerstone of our democracy is voting and free and fair elections, and so, lawyers who are skilled in that, because we are trained to be skilled in reading law and understanding the Voting Rights Act, we are in the best position to assist in those endeavors."
DePiero said he would volunteer himself.
"I think it’s an interesting twist. I think it’s a good idea," he said.
O'Connor said it's not just for attorneys, "Judges can do this, as well, if they're not on the ballot."