Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is telling Republicans and Democrats on the Hamilton County Board of Elections to try to work out their differences on moving the board offices to Mt. Airy among themselves, before he casts a tie-breaking vote.
With Republican Hamilton County Board of Elections members voting for a move to Mt. Airy, and Democrats voting against, the tie-break will go to the Ohio Secretary of State. The vote came Monday after some heated speeches by the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, Representative Alicia Reece and other audience members in a packed Board of Elections room Monday morning.
At issue is whether the board should move from its downtown location, 800 Broadway to the old Mercy Hospital in Mt. Airy.
A spokesman for Husted said he wanted the board of elections to work it out among themselves, which would allow him to avoid a tie-breaking vote.
"The Secretary is hopeful that the board will reach a compromise,'' said Matt McClellan, a spokesman for Husted.
Both sides are expected to submit arguments to the secretary of state today. Husted will look at the argument, McClellan said, '"and decide where to go from there."
Chair of the Hamilton County Republican Party and board member Alex Triantafilou called downtown a "terrible location and an inaccessible site." He said the Mt. Airy location would provide 500 free parking places. Republican board member Chip Gerhardt said the move is the right thing to do and the argument has turned into "racial politics." He said it's "not about denying people the right to vote."
Opponents say getting to Mt. Airy is a problem for those without cars and the move would create voter suppression.
Chairman of the Cincinnati NAACP Ishton Morton said it's about disenfranchising voters because many people will not be able to afford the bus fare to make the many transfers necessary to get to Mt. Airy.
Even if the BOE is moved to Mt. Airy it wouldn't happen until 2016. Also The Hamilton County Sheriff says his office would maintain a 24 hour drop box for ballots.
There has also been a proposal by Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley to move the BOE to the old Shillito building downtown. Board of Elections members say they haven't been given any formal proposals about that.