Board of elections votes 2-2 on moving to Mount Airy

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The Hamilton County Board of Elections is in a stalemate on the issue of whether to move it's headquarters to Mount. Airy.

Monday's vote resulted in a 2-2 tie and Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted will cast the deciding vote.

This comes amid opposition from Cincinnati City Council members who already voted unanimously against the move. The proposed location is nine miles outside of downtown and it would take residents 45 minutes by bus to cast early in-person votes.

Both Republicans and Democrats voiced their concerns at the board of elections meeting Monday morning. While many Republican voters told the board this move would be a sound financial decision, many Democrats are calling it voter suppression and disenfranchisement.

"Look, we are a board composed of two of the leading democrats and two of the leading republicans in Hamilton County. We are talking about elections. Will it shock anybody that there are politics involved?" asked Tim Burke, the board's Democratic chairman.

It is a heated political battle according to both sides of the aisle and Monday, the public had their say.

"As president of the NAACP, we will keep telling you that any movement of the board of election from downtown is a ludicrous one," said Ishton Morton.

The argument stems for a proposal to move the board of elections from downtown Cincinnati to the former Mercy Hospital in Mount Airy.

Both Republican board members say the new location would be more accessible and 24-hour ballot drop boxes will still be open downtown.

"This current location, downtown location, isn't working," said Alex Triantafilou."We believe that the small number of people that this may inconvenience is far out numbered by the people that will find it more convenient. Our obligation is too the entire county."

But for early voters that do not have vehicles, Democrats say only one metro bus serves the Mount Airy location. Burke says it's a move to deliberately limit voting access to Democratic voters.

"There are 40,000 households in Hamilton County with no cars. That makes bus service all the more important. There is no good bus transportation to that Mount Airy site," says Burke.

If the move does happen, it will happen at the end of 2016 when the lease at the Broadway Building expires. Both sides have agreed to submit their arguments to the secretary of state's office by noon Tuesday.

A spokesman for Husted's office says both sides have 14 days to submit their arguments for review. Husted's office is hopeful both sides will reconsider the vote and come to a resolution.

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