It doesn't appear there is room for compromise on where to move the Hamilton County Board of Elections, despite the hope of Republican Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted that both sides reach an agreement.
FOX19's Rob Williams on Tuesday's FOX19 Morning News interviewed Tim Burke, chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party and Alex Triantafilou, chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party. Burke and Triantafilou are members of the board of elections.
The board is currently located at 824 Broadway St. downtown. Republicans want to move the board to the former Mercy campus in Mount Airy.
Burke said Democrats offered a compromise to move administration, training and storage to the Mount Airy site and keep early voting and an office for filing downtown.
Triantafilou said that proposal divides the board's operation and the Mount Airy site will never be used with its free parking. He said Republicans' compromise is to remain at the current location through 2016 when the next presidential election is.
On Monday, the board voted 2-2 on the move. 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 Husted's office by noon Tuesday.
A spokesman for Husted's office said Monday 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.
Here are the points of disagreement as was outlined in Rob's interview with the party chairmen.
Burke said the difficulty with the Mount Airy site is there is little bus service.
He said the county had 24,000 people who visited the board of elections in the last presidential election with many of those people being among the 40,000 households in Hamilton County who don't have cars. He said the difficulty with the Mount Airy site is that there is little bus service.
Triantafilou said the Mount Airy site has 500 free parking spaces and the location would be easier for voters to visit. He said the county has the worst percentage of people who vote early in-person in Ohio. He said the current location is "totally inaccessible in this remote corner of downtown." He said the new location would still be in the city.
Does the board need to be downtown?
Burke said in every major Ohio city, the board of elections is located in the central business district. He said that's where the best access is and where the greatest concentration of residents and business workers are who can walk to the boards of elections.
"There's no question that many of those folks (the 24,000 voters) are people who work downtown, who live out in the suburbs but manage to walk to the board of elections," he said. "It's well located for them."
Triantafilou said the Butler County Board of Elections moved out of Hamilton into the suburbs. (The Butler County Board of Elections is in Hamilton but it's not in downtown Hamilton). He said it's about 4 percent of the electorate who vote early in person. He said the county has many other methods such as voting at your precinct on Election Day and mailing your ballot.
"We have election month in this state making it really easy to vote," he said.
Who does the move impact more?
Burke said there is no question the move affects urban Democratic voters, African-Americans and minorities disproportionately.
Triantafilou it is suburban voters and other voters in the city who want to drive and can't find parking. He said the Republican proposal will improve the number of voters who vote in-person at the board because of free parking.
Is it a political issue?
Burke said it is.
Triantafilou said Democrats are making it a political issue but the Mount Airy site would still be very friendly to Democrats.
FOX19 reporter Lisa Hutson contributed.
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