Gathering at courthouse not permitted election night

SCIOTO — The Scioto County Health Department has issued an order canceling residents’ gathering at the courthouse after polling has closed Nov. 3.

According to a release, the health department has ordered the Scioto County Courthouse to be closed to the public at 7:31 p.m. Nov. 3. Only members of the Board of Elections and its employees, agents, and necessary poll workers shall be permitted in the courthouse to carry out their responsibilities related to the 2020 general election. Election results should be posted by the Board of Elections, its employees, and agents, by any electronic means deemed appropriate by said Board or its employees and agents.

In previous years, after each primary and general election, the courthouse has remained open to allow candidates and the public to await election results, which are displayed on a large screen in the rotunda. Generally speaking. a crowd watches the results from the first-floor rotunda and around the second-floor balcony. The health department stated that this year gathering at the courthouse would not be permitted.

“This year, the Scioto County Board of Elections will be open as a polling place to allow Scioto County registered voters to cast their ballot, in person, or while remaining in their motor vehicles outside the door on the Seventh Street side of the courthouse,” the health department said. “In addition, registered voters will be permitted to return their absentee/voting by mail ballots at a drop box at the courthouse. To be counted, absentee/voting by mail ballots must be returned to the Scioto County Board of Elections before 7:30 p.m. Nov. 3, 2020.”

While gathering will not be permitted inside the courthouse, the Scioto County Board of Elections shared it has a system in place where election results can be live-streamed to the public as they are counted for each precinct, thereby eliminating the need for people to congregate in the courthouse to watch election results in real time.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ohio Public Health Advisory System has issued a Level 3 Public Emergency in Scioto County due to the extremely high exposure and spread of COVID-19 throughout Scioto County. As a result, the Ohio Department of Health recommends residents and others located in Scioto County limit their activities as much as possible and follow all current health orders.

“Unless specifically excepted by a specific Order of the Ohio Department of Health, gatherings of more than 10 people remain prohibited,” the release stated. “While there have been many Ohio Department of Health Orders and Amended Orders allowing larger gatherings for many different events, no specific order sets forth an exemption for an activity at the courthouse such as the one contemplated by this Order.”

Those wishing to vote before election day can do so inside the SCBOE office on the first floor of the courthouse at the following times:

  • Oct. 19-23: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Oct. 24: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Oct. 25: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Oct. 26-30: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Oct. 31: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Nov. 1: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Nov. 2: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.