Seneca County elections panel personnel continue education

Board member David Koehl

Two Seneca County Board of Elections directors and a board member have received a special certification that makes them more knowledgeable and will help them to provide an efficient and secure election process.
Election Director Jim Ehrman, Deputy Director Lori Ritzler and board member David Koehl have spent several years, logging many miles on their vehicles and studying for countless hours to complete the Ohio Registered Election Official Program. The three graduated from the program earlier this year.
The program, which is offered by the Ohio Associate of Election Officials through a partnership with the Ohio State University’s John Glenn College of Affairs, is an Ohio-centric certification program that provides a variety of courses related to election issues from the academic and legal perspective. There also are courses on how election laws are implemented and applied on the job.
Ehrman said eight classes are required for certification. He said none of the courses are offered online, meaning students must travel to Columbus to attend the lectures.
Ritzler said she valued the experience.
“There isn’t a formal education process to learn the election world,” she said. “This program is a very valuable tool. It was a great opportunity to gain knowledge and a better understanding of Ohio elections.”
Ehrman said those who receive the certification must continue their education to remain certified. He said the courses are a valuable way to improve as an election official.
“There is no college major or university study that preps you to be an election official in Ohio,” he said. “This program features college-level lectures and coursework.”
Ehrman said the education provided through the certification program helps Seneca County stay ahead of the curve and up to date with relevant and timely elections information.
“It’s all about being the most professional I can be,” he said on his motivation to complete the coursework. “Education is a key to that. The courses help you to be more knowledgeable.”
Koehl said he took the courses to help benefit voters.
“Most of the people taking these classes are directors or staff. But I think it’s important for board members to be fully informed about the entire election process to make better decisions,” he said. “So I devoted the time to completing these classes to become an Ohio Registered Election Official to benefit Seneca County.”
Ehrman said about half of the counties in Ohio have a certified Registered Election Official but said it’s unique for a county to have two directors and a board member who graduated from the program.
Ehrman also said board member Mike Bridinger recently became a member of the Legislative Committee for Ohio Association of Election Officials.
“He is one of 38 people on that committee, working directly with legislators,” he said.
Ehrman said all the board members and all of the election staff continue to work to be the best they can be.
“The whole board, everyone, they are going above and beyond,” he said.