BOE OKs staff raises; conducts audit

MIAMI COUNTY — The Miami County Board of Elections approved salary increases for its directors and full-time clerks on Tuesday.

According to Director Laura Bruns, she and Deputy Director Ian Ridgeway had a 7.5 percent increase in salary approved by the board. Their matching salaries will be $61,300.16 for 2021.

The board also approved a $1.29 per hour raise for its two full-time clerks with $17.83 and $18.50 per hour respectively.

Bruns said staff compensation was one of the Secretary of State’s recommendations in its annual report to bring Miami County’s wages up to par with other counties of similar size. The last salary raise for a director was in 2016 for $22.83 due to federal base pay and then the previous years for all employees it was limited to the annual 2 percent cost of living raises from the county.

The board agreed to seek direction from the Miami County Prosecutor’s Office regarding the IVS/Midwest Direct refund from its October absentee ballot failure. Bruns said the county is seeking a partial refund for its delay of ballots due to equipment failures. Burns said several other counties that contracted with the vendor were seeking similar action.

The board also accepted the results of its audit in which one ballot had not been properly scanned at a polling location on Election Day. Bruns said the error was likely attributed to a jammed ballot, which was pushed through without being counted. The audit of 3,225 ballots and its one ballot error still fell under its allowable error margin of 99.8 percent.

“Our rate was still 99.97 percent accuracy. If it had been less than 99.8 percent, we would have had to escalate the audit and conduct an audit on more precincts,” Bruns said. The board amended the election results to count the missed ballot. Bruns said more training on how to deal with ballot jams and how to ensure the ballot is in fact counted before going into the ballot box will be emphasized during its next sessions of poll worker training.

• The board of elections is planning to use HAVA funds to install security systems and window film in the old OSU spaces on the first floor of the courthouse, which is being used for equipment storage. Bruns said staff had explored making the office’s counter more handicapped accessible, but due to the office’s potential move in the future, she’d like a timeline from commissioners of if and when that may occur before expending the funds. Bruns said the remaining funds will likely return to the state if not used and then be reallocated to other counties to help make their sites more handicapped accessible. More information will be presented about the grant at its next meeting on Jan. 26.

The county received a $40,000 HAVA grant for cybersecurity and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The county also received $30,000 in funds for cybersecurity as part of the Secretary of State’s pilot program.

• Due to no filing requirements or deadlines, the board of elections office will be closed from Thursday, Dec. 24 and Friday, 25 and then for the entire following week. The office will reopen Jan. 4, 2021. A document box would be available for any applications or registration that need to be submitted to the office while it is closed. The May election deadline for filing is 4 p.m. Feb. 3.