The proposed BOE location is nine miles from the current site.
Voting lines outside the Board of Elections, photo courtesy of Hamilton County Democratic Party
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -
The Hamilton County Board of Elections on Monday will vote on a proposed relocation of their headquarters away from it's current downtown site on Broadway.
The vote comes amid outspoken opposition from City Council members, who voted unanimously against moving the BOE to the former Mercy campus in Mount Airy.
Ohio residents who cast their vote early in-person are the main concern of objectors to the move. Voting rights advocates say the Mount Airy location would disproportionately hurt those who tend to vote early. Over 24,000 voters cast ballots early in-person in 2012.
With the proposed new headquarters located nine miles outside of downtown and an average bus route to it taking 45 minutes, they are worried about early voters without personal transportation.
"We have 40,000 households in Hamilton County without cars, those folks rely on buses that are easy to take to get downtown," Said BOE board member Tim Burke. The standpoints of election board members have fallen along party lines, with Burke and his fellow Democrat against the move and the two Republicans for it.
The Catholic Health Partners have offered to house the Board of Elections as well as Hamilton County Crime Lab in their Mount Airy building for free - on the condition they accept the offer by January 31.
"We think this is a no-brainer for the tax payers and for the voters of Hamilton County because it gives us the ability to consolidate our operations from three different locations in to one," said board member Alex Triantafilou.
Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley proposed moving the headquarters to the old Shillito's building at 7th and Elm. The city of Cincinnati owns the Shillito's building and Cranley says the move would save Cincinnati the $700,000 dollars in rent they pay at the BOE's current headquarters.
On Sunday afternoon, Mayor Cranley sent an open email to Republican board member Chip Gerhardt requesting he recuse himself from the vote, which would leave the two Democrats with the majority. Gerhardt is a lobbyist for the city, which is a conflict of interest according to Cranley.
On Sunday evening Gerhardt resigned from his position as city lobbyist in response to Cranley's request he recuse himself from the vote.
"I took an oath to the citizens of Ohio to faithfully discharge my duties as a member of the Board of Elections and I intend to do just that," said a statement from Gerhardt.
The vote happens Monday at 8:30 a.m. If it ends in a tie, the city will lobby Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to make the decision.