The Hamilton County Board of Elections can move to the former Mercy Health Mount Airy campus, Republican Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted ruled Friday.
The board voted 2-2 on Jan. 27 on two separate motions related to the move that would happen in 2017.
Democrats oppose the move and Republicans support it. The board is currently located at 824 Broadway St. downtown.
"It will make it easier for all of Hamilton County voters to vote early," said Alex Triantafilou, chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party and an election board member. "Right now the county is dead last in the state in early voting."
Triantafilou said as far as who has been politically motivated, it's been the Democrats who ignore the fact that the county is dead last and they're trying to scare people.
Hamilton County Democratic Party chairman Tim
Burke says although he's disappointed, he wasn't surprised by the decision.
"It is not surprising that the
Republican Secretary of State who has been supporting a whole lot of efforts to
make it more difficult to vote here in Ohio would join with the Republican
members of the board of elections," said Burke.
Tim Burke says it's frustrating for the
thousands of people without cars. There will be a 24 hour drop box that remains
downtown, but he adds there's only one bus route that sporadically makes runs
to this location in mount airy.
time it will take is just going to discourage people from voting," adds Burke.
Husted's office had hoped that both sides would reconsider the vote and come to a resolution.
In a three-page ruling, Husted urged the board to consider accessibility, security/safety and cost effectiveness.
"Put simply, (moving to Mount Airy) allows the Board of Elections to operate out of a location that meets all of its needs, something the current site does not do."
Husted said he urges the board to work with Hamilton County commissioners to increase Metro bus access to the facility.
Husted also said he directs the board or a future board "to work together to either find bipartisan agreement on improving early voting services at the Mount Airy site or jointly working out an alternative early voting location that works for all of Hamilton County.
"Three years should be plenty of time to make improvements to the Mount Airy site or conduct a thorough review of all possible facilities and determine what site best serves the voters of Hamilton County."
The county is moving its crime lab and coroner's office to the Mount Airy site too. Last month, county commissioners voted 3-0 to accept Mercy Health's donation of the campus.
Moving the county crime lab from its present location in Corryville is at least a year away and outfitting the new location at the Mount Airy hospital is expected to cost $21 million.
Husted is seeking re-election this year. Libertarian Aaron Keith Harris and state Sen. Nina Turner, D-Cleveland, are also running.
In a statement, Turner said she pledges "to work with Hamilton County elections officials to secure the information and resources the board needs to make the present location accessible to voters, visitors and employees alike through 2016."
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