By Sam Wildow
MIAMI COUNTY — The Miami County Board of Elections discussed utilizing schools as future voting locations during its meeting this week.
Director Laura Bruns said they recently met with two local school districts, Piqua and Milton-Union, to tour the facilities to see if they met the board’s needs for voting locations. In Piqua, they toured the Washington Primary School, Piqua Central Intermediate School, and the Piqua Junior High School.
“All of the buildings are certainly adequate for use for us,” Bruns said. “What it comes down to is, is the school going to be willing to actually close for the day? If they don’t close for the day, it’s going to be inconvenient for them and probably for our voters because of busing and cars coming in and out and students coming in and out.“
Bruns said she has plans to present to Piqua’s committee that plans the district’s calendar, suggesting the district make election day a staff in-service day starting in 2023. She said the parking would be particularly difficult at Washington Primary in Piqua if they did not close for the day.
Bruns said they currently have adequate voting space now without the schools, but the board’s office is looking for locations for the long-term. She added the board’s office also wants to get away from using private locations for voting locations, as privately-owned locations can pull out their space 30 days before an election day.
Board member Audrey Gillespie suggested the board look at more locations in the south side of Piqua due to voting locations being far away from those voters. Gillespie said she lives in that area, and her voting location at the Learning Center is a 15-minute drive from her home, while it only takes her seven minutes to get to the Troy Hospital.
“I feel like we’re being selective in who gets to vote,” Gillespie said.
Board member Jim Oda said voters in the south side of Piqua have some of the lowest voting turnout rates.
Bruns said the ADA requirements are the hardest hurdle to cross when it comes to finding adequate voting locations.
Also during the meeting, Bruns said the board’s office sent approximately 183 “last chance” notices to registered voters whose voter registration will be canceled “if they fail to take any kind of voter activity, which includes signing a petition, updating their voter registration, returning a notice, (or) voting in November.”
“They will be canceled in December,” Bruns said.
Later during the meeting, Deputy Director Ian Ridgeway said some voters may receive polling location change cards as the board’s office is auditing street listings and maps to make sure residents are in their correct precincts. Many of these voters will have the same voting location as they did previously as a number of precincts vote out of the same locations. Some voters may see an update in where they are supposed to vote.