Miami County Commissioners vote 2-1 on plan for early voting

MIAMI COUNTY — On Tuesday, the Miami County Commissioners voted 2-1 in favor of a plan from the Miami County Board of Elections in regard to processing early voters for the Nov. 3 General Election.

By a majority vote — with commissioners Ted Mercer and Greg Simmons voting in favor of the plan and commissioner Jack Evans voting against the plan — the commissioners authorized a plan that will utilize the former OSU Extension office space at the Miami County Courthouse and open additional doors to the courthouse for early voting.

The plan allows the voters to check-in in the hallway at the courthouse. Entrance to the early voting center will be the south doors, facing Main Street at the front of the courthouse to bypass the courthouse security, which is located on the east side of the building. The security bypass issue is to avoid voter disenfranchisement, according to the Board of Elections, as well as to provide adequate space for social distancing requirements. The layout would block access to the rest of the first floor, including the elevator.

Director of the Board of Elections Laura Bruns said after the rest of the courthouse closes at 4 p.m., as well as during weekend early voting hours, off-duty deputies will assist with security until the early voting center is closed.

The Board of Elections formally adopted the plan during a special meeting on July 20.

“I have no qualms about it,” Miami County Sheriff Dave Duchak said about the plan on Tuesday. “We’ll be able to maintain complete security of the courthouse during that.”

Evans explained his vote against this plan was due to safety concerns with opening up the additional doors on that side of the building, along with the security bypass.

“I’m not in favor of opening up another entrance in the courthouse,” Evans said. “The rest of your plan I have no problem with.”

Bruns also added the Board of Elections office is also looking into additional accessibility concerns with that south side entrance, as well as the limited handicap parking. The Board of Elections received a Security and Accessibility Grant in the amount of $40,000 from the 2020 Help American Vote Act that can be used to increase cybersecurity, physical security, and voter accessibility.

The Board of Elections is also receiving $87,627 from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to be used “to prevent, prepare for, and respond to” the COVID-19 pandemic for the 2020 General Election. Bruns said that will go toward items like face shields and cleaning supplies for the 2020 election, noting there is a “great need” for poll workers this year. She said the board’s office has reached to past poll workers, and about 20 percent of them have already declined to work during this upcoming election.

In other news, the commissioners awarded a contract to Brumbaugh Construction, Inc. of Arcanum in the amount of $447,399 for the Troy-Urbana Road Bridge No. 04.71 Replacement Project. A $300,000 grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission is being used to fund this project with the rest being a local match. Work on the project is expected to start within a couple months. The project will take approximately eight to 12 weeks to complete, weather permitting.