Miami County Board of Elections certifies local petitions for May 3 primary


By Sam Wildow

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TROY — The Miami County Board of Elections met in a special meeting on Wednesday to certify candidates and issues for the May 3 Primary Election.

The board only had a handful of petitions to certify, including Jena Powell, 80th district state representative, Republican; Ted Mercer, Miami County commissioner, Republican; Matthew W. Gearhardt, Miami County auditor, Republican; Shawn M. Peeples, unexpired term for Miami County Clerk of Courts, Republican; and a number of central committee members.

Director Laura Bruns of the Miami County Board of Elections also updated the board members on a petition with issues from Ricardo Reddick, Ohio Senate district five candidate, a Democrat. Reddick filed his petition at the Miami County Board of Elections office, but the petition should have been filed within the most populous county, which would have the been the Montgomery County Board of Elections. Even prior to the new state district maps being signed into law on Jan. 28 by Governor Mike DeWine, Miami County was never the most populous county in the district.

Bruns said they consulted with the Miami County Prosecutor’s Office, and they recommended transferring the petition to the Montgomery County Board of Elections. It is still expected to be rejected by the Montgomery County Board of Elections, but that board meets on Monday.

The only local issue on the May 3 ballot is a local liquor option for Troy precinct 4-A for the address of 1403 W. Market St., where a Casey’s General Store is expected to be located.

Also on Wednesday, the Miami County Board of Elections discussed its ongoing office space issue, and Mercer was in attendance at this meeting, as well.

The Miami County Commissioners are seeking to move the Board of Elections out of space that was previously occupied by the OSU extension office to transfer that space to Miami County Municipal Court. The Board of Elections staff expressed hesitation in being separated from the board’s voting equipment as the commissioners have suggested other storage locations for the voting equipment, such as the basement of the Hobart Center for County Government, which is located nearby on Adams Street in Troy. Under this option, the Board of Elections’ main office would still be located in the Miami County Courthouse.

Members of the board’s office, as well as board member Rob Long, recently toured the basement space in the Hobart Center. Long expressed support for the board to move its voting equipment into that space, making a motion that the board do so. That motion failed due to a lack of another board member seconding that motion.

Bruns said losing the former OSU extension office space would also decrease the board’s space to process mail, such as when it comes time to process mail-in ballots.

“When you’re crunched for space, that’s when mistakes happen,” Bruns said.

It is also expected that when the county’s new One-Stop-Shop is built, which will house the BMV and other county departments, the Board of Elections could get more space from the Department of Development when it moves into that new center. That point could be two to three years away, though.

Board of Elections Chairman Dave Fisher questioned why the commissioners were seeking to make these changes at this time instead of waiting until the new center is built. The OSU extension office also relocated to the Hobart Center in July 2020.

Mercer said the county wants to use that space for other departments, like Municipal Court, adding he did not like that the “most iconic building in Miami County” is being used as a storage building. He added that the space at the Hobart Center that is being offered is secure and can be equipment with security cameras.

Mercer pointed at, as well, the Board of Elections previously operated without that space in the past. Board member Audrey Gillespie said the board had different equipment at that time and different operations. The board’s new security operations include cages to house the voting equipment, which the board previously did not have.

Even with the board’s current space, it is still facing a need for more. The board had to utilize hallway space in the courthouse earlier this week to perform system upgrades on the voting equipment. The upgrades to the equipment was supervised the entire time, but the work was performed in public space.

The board decided to table the discussion at this time. Gillespie asked board staff to come up with the pros and cons of the board’s options, which also includes seeking a new space to lease.

The board’s next meeting will be at 5 p.m. on Feb. 23.

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