BOE tours Hobart Center as a potential location

MIAMI COUNTY — Miami County Commissioners and the Miami County Board of Elections met to discuss a new home for the elections equipment and its staff.

On Tuesday, all parties toured Miami County’s Hobart Center for County Government at 501 W. Water St., Troy, prior to the regular board of elections meeting.

Two sites in the building are being considered — one on the first floor and one on the second floor. Executive director Laura Bruns said the first-floor location would be more ideal for accessibility, but the wait for it to become available would be around two years. The second story location could be open as soon as six months, according to Commissioner Greg Simmons. Bruns later said she liked the site and its space and its proximity to the Miami County Courthouse.

“I was more pleased than I expected to be,” Bruns said.

Bruns had concerns regarding security, which could be considered as voter disenfranchisement. Simmons said with the nearly $500,000 in labor and equipment it costs to operate the Miami County Sheriff’s Office security checkpoints at both the Safety Building and the courthouse, Simmons said it would be an unlikely addition at the Hobart Center for County Government. Simmons did say, if needed, a deputy could be of assistance to the board during early voting or general elections hours.

Commissioner Ted Mercer said they’d like to address space issues prior to the board making any kind of move, including removing shelving, repairs, new ceiling tiles and furniture.

Mercer said the historic courthouse is one of the most iconic in the county and he didn’t want its first-floor space to be used for storage. The board of elections was using the former OSU Extension office to store voting equipment and also used its training rooms for early voting last fall.

Mercer also added he hoped to have some kind of estimate of the renovation of the Hobart Center for County Government space the board of elections is interested in, including wall removals and space issues, in the near future.

Board of elections members made various comments in support of moving forward with considering the Hobart Center for County Government as its intentional new home.

“This is exciting,” said chairman Dave Fisher.

The filing deadline for the May Primary is Feb. 3. The deadline to certify petitions is Feb. 16. The board plans to meet at 5 p.m. Feb. 8 to meet that deadline.