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JCC drive prepares residents for election

Staff photo / David Skolnick Samie Winick, chairwoman of the Jewish Community Relations Council’s social action committee, helps Joseph Parker Sr. of Youngstown fill out a registration form and absentee ballot request.

YOUNGSTOWN — Joseph Parker Sr. of Youngstown has moved a few times since he last voted, so he wanted to make sure he was registered.

Parker’s son, Joseph, drove his father Tuesday to a voter registration drive outside the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown to find out. He was registered, but not at his current address.

Not only did members of the Jewish Community Relations Council’s social action committee, which ran the drive, get that resolved, they also helped him fill out an absentee ballot request so he can vote from home.

“This is very convenient,” Parker Sr. said of the event. “As soon as I heard about it, I said I had to come out and take care of it. It’s a lot easier to deal with it this way.”

The JCRC of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation and the JCC had the vote registration drive outside because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tuesday was National Voter Registration Day, which is designed to focus on registering people to vote for the upcoming election.

Those who came to the drive registered to vote, checked their registration status, received absentee ballot request forms and polling site location information.

Everyone wore face masks.

“We had to do it this way because of COVID-19,” Samie Winick, social action committee chairwoman, said. “There are advantages to it because there’s a greater convenience for people. They don’t have to get out of their car. When we had the event last year inside, we were mainly getting people coming to the JCC. This way, we’re more accessible to the general public.”

Joel Rivera of Youngstown said he last voted in the 2016 presidential election and was uncertain if he was still registered.

“I registered a long time ago, so I wasn’t sure,” he said.

Rivera came to the drive-thru to check.

Shari Della Penna, a social action committee member, used her smartphone to go on the Ohio secretary of state’s website and found Rivera was registered.

“He was happy about that,” Della Penna said.

She added she prefers the outdoor vehicle effort to the indoor one from last year.

“We were catching people on the fly last year, and this is a targeted audience,” Della Penna said.

For those who missed the event, you can go online to www.voteohio.gov to register, update your registration address and check to see if you’re registered.

Also, boards of elections in Ohio are accepting voter registration forms and applications to vote early. Oct. 5 is the deadline to register for the Nov. 3 election. Early voting starts Oct. 6.

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