New director, team prepare for Nov. 3 general election

New director, team prepare for Nov. 3 general election

Matthew Nicklas, director of the Pickaway County Board of Elections, spoke to the Circleville Noon Rotary on Sept. 24 about the upcoming Nov. 3 general election. Photo courtesy of Circleville Noon Rotary.

by Craig Lovelace

CIRCLEVILLE — The Pickaway Press caught up with Pickaway County’s recently installed Board of Elections Director Matthew Nicklas at the end of September and asked his thoughts about how he expects the process to go this year considering the heightened interest in the general election.

There are 26 polling locations in the county and 36,000 registered voters. Beginning today, the board implemented extended hours that run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. this week; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. next week and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. the following week. Information to help guide voters can be found at the board’s website by clicking here.

The Pickaway Press: On Sept. 24, you said the office was to go “full tilt.” What does that entail?

Nicklas: Basically, we are entering full election mode. [On Sept. 28,] we were eight days away from mailing out more than 6,500 [absentee] ballots and when we will be open to the public for early voting. On the same day, our new Deputy Director John Howley began work and we on-boarded him. That week kicked off a very busy week of training sessions for poll workers training sessions, we had nine scheduled for the week. Our website includes our extended early voting hours in case you are interested. 

TPP: What is your best guess about Election Night in Pickaway County and why: A) All the ballots will get counted, or B) All ballots won’t get counted? 

Nicklas: On Election night, we are expecting all eligible absentee, early, and election day ballots to be counted. Our first numbers reported will be the absentee mail-in ballots, followed by the early voted ballots, and then the election day votes cast at each polling location.

TPP: You said 6,500 absentee ballots had already been requested. Given that figure, what is your guesstimate for a total?

Nicklas: Unfortunately, I am not confident enough to give a final guesstimate on this number as there are too many variables. (Editor: Nicklas said at an event that in the 2016 general election, there were a total of 8,000 absentee ballots requested in Pickaway County.)

TPP: List your positions with BOE since joining it?

Nicklas: I began as a poll worker in 2005; in 2007, I became a voting location manager; in 2012, I became a rover and assisted with delivering and picking up equipment for each election, as well as responding to issues that might arise on Election Day; and on Aug. 3, I began as the new director.

TPP: Does a local BOE work with a local post office to coordinate in any manner?

Nicklas: The Pickaway County Board of Elections coordinates with the postmaster of the Circleville Post Office to ensure that mail is delivered in an efficient, timely and safe manner.

TPP: BOE directors must act like maestros leading their orchestra through a great performance. As a director, paint a picture for the reader of what someone like yourself watches for as the day progresses. Does each election have its blips, or do they generally run without a hitch?

Nicklas: Unfortunately, I am unable to paint a picture since this is my first election as director. Every election is different and presents its own unique obstacles. I am fortunate to be joining a team of well-trained, fully capable office staff who have decades of combined experience, along with a host of volunteers, board members and seasonal staff quick to help with anything we need to successfully perform a safe, secure and fair election.

TPP: Describe what if any concerns you or your board might have for this election.

Nicklas: We are very excited for this upcoming election. We are coordinating with the Ohio secretary of state (who is working with the Ohio Department of Health) and the Pickaway County Health Department to ensure we take every necessary step to protect every worker and voter throughout this election. We do hope that voters will utilize site to determine whether we have received their paperwork, when we ship out their ballot, when we receive it, or if there are any problems.

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