BOE conducts public test of voting equipment

TROY — Members of the Miami County Board of Elections held a special meeting at the Miami County Courthouse on Wednesday, Oct. 26, to conduct their annual public test of voting equipment and finalizing plans for election day on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

“So far, almost every day we have increased the number of voters who have come into the early vote center,” Board Director Laura Bruns said. “It’s about twice as many as we had at this point four years ago.”

“Just like we thought would happen, a lot more people are coming in to vote early,” she said.

The public test of voting equipment was performed, using sample ballots for three randomly selected precincts. All of the equipment tested passed.

Board members also discussed the upcoming loss of the Piqua Apostolic Temple as a polling location after this year’s election. “They are asking to be released from their contract,” Bruns said. “We are going to be there in November; it starts after this election.”

“It’s something we’re going to need to work on after the election,” she said. “There are three precincts in that polling location; other locations could absorb the three of them rather simply, but I don’t like the idea of changing them twice.”

The temple can no longer serve as a polling place due to conflicts with its daycare, which is located next to the polling area. “It’s right next to the space that we used, so it was just not working very well to have voters coming in all day,” Bruns said.

“We have nothing on this whole third of Piqua,” Board member Audrey Gillespie said. “Now we’re going to have nothing on that whole half of Piqua. I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to get more creative.”

“I don’t care if we have to quadruple our fee to someplace on the south side of town,” Gillespie said. “That’s the definition of voter disenfranchisement. It’s infuriating, and not OK at all.”

“There’s no easy fix for Piqua, unfortunately,” Board Chairperson Dave Fisher said.

Board members have driven through the area, searching for possible polling locations.

“We did not come up with a single building that is accessible, that works,” Bruns said. “I understand what you’re saying, but we have to meet the requirements.”

“Obviously, we have to do something, so some kind of change is coming,” she said.

Board members went on to discuss a recent order from the clerk of courts office, regarding petitions filed with the common pleas court on the removal of two board members of the Tipp City school district. “We are being ordered to check those,” Bruns said. “There are over 1,000 signatures on that petition.”

The board of elections was given a deadline of Friday, Nov. 18, to process the signatures, but has asked for an extension until Wednesday, Nov. 30.

“Checking 1,000 signatures on a petition is not really something that we can do before Nov. 18,” Bruns said.

In other business, board members also discussed recent shortages of democrat poll workers.

“We did have a few shortages on Democrat positions,” Bruns said. “Last week, we sent a letter to 2,100 voters who are affiliated with the Democratic party, who are between the ages of 50 and 70.”

The board needed about 50 additional volunteers when the letter went out. “That worked out well,” Bruns said. “So far, I think we’re in pretty good shape.”

Board members also discussed the number of ballots ordered for this year’s election. “It came out to about 58,000 ballots,” board deputy director Ian Ridgeway said.

If there is a shortage of ballots, board members can also print extras on-demand, if needed.

“Poll workers are to call us when they hit a certain point,” Ridgeway said. “We have five print stations where we can start printing ballots, and getting them out there.”

Board members also heard an update on this year’s absentee ballot totals. As of Wednesday afternoon, a total of 3,331 people had already voted early.

“We sent out 7,336 ballots through the regular mail,” Bruns said. “And 2,640 of those have been returned as countable.”

“We have 25 that are uncountable at this point,” she said. “Most of those are because people forgot to sign their identification envelope, or they failed to provide ID, or the ID doesn’t match. In some cases, the signature doesn’t match.”

Board members ended their meeting with a motion to open the polls at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 8. The board will stand in recess until 6 p.m. on Election Day.

Board members will hold their next regularly scheduled meeting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 22.