WILMINGTON — If the stars align, the Clinton County Board of Elections (BOE) could be moving to its new location by July with new equipment to better optimize their space.
BOE Director Shane Breckel spoke at the Clinton County Commissioners on Monday about how a new election system they’re looking at would give them more space than the current precinct-based scanners.
With the current ones, which they’ve had since 2006, they’re unable to take them apart and can’t stack them between elections.
“The way we got by on this was we’d disassemble and then reassemble them every election,” said Breckel.
A big difference between the proposed machines and the current ones is they have a collapsible plastic ballot bin instead of a large metal bin. While this would save them on space, ultimately it would result in “a complete switch” of the current election system. This would mean having to buy a high-speed scanner — but state money and the election revenue fund would cover it.
“What we’d be asking you, if we go this route, is assistance with getting the whole election system purchased and then we’d pay you back through the election revenue fund each year as we collect our charge fact,” he said, adding that the software is light years beyond the current system and wouldn’t cost much.
The new equipment would help them out in recounts, including an option to determine which write-in votes are real or fake.
He also said there’s a state senate bill that would help get the equipment. Senate Bill 135, proposed by State Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Hudson), would provide funding to assist counties in upgrading their outdated voting equipment.
Breckel said he had chatted with a company about the equipment and was willing to meet with the BOE at the annex to give them ideas on how to maximize their space.
“If we moved over there I don’t think we would need to use one of the community rooms unless we scheduled it like any other person for training or something like that,” he said.
According to him, they would be able to use the current coroner’s office — one of the spaces offered to them — and reconfigure it for early voting. In-between elections, they’d use it for equipment maintenance.
He added that the old building and zoning office would be the administration offices and where they’d keep the tabulation system. Daily operations and programming would still happen over there with the dental clinic and the old conference room being used for equipment storage.
He imagined storage would be done with modified baker’s rakes that would allow them to do maintenance work on the machines while in storage.
The one thing holding them back is the particulars of the switchover, according to him.
“It’s a big switch because we’ve been using the same systems since 2006. So, we’ll be going in with all-new software and equipment,” he said. “Our office has been pretty comfortable with the technological changes in elections. I feel that the software is pretty intuitive. I don’t think we’d have a problem learning it.”
The BOE would decide on whether or not to go ahead with the new system at their meeting Wednesday morning and present their decision at the next ommissioners’ meeting. Commissioners and BOE members agreed to meet at the annex facility later that afternoon to discuss and show what they intended to do.
Discussions about the move began in August 2016 with the BOE saying they need “no less” than 6,000 square feet but would “ideally” want between 9,000 and 10,000 square feet, a loading dock and a backup generator.
The current BOE location in the Clinton County Courthouse encompasses 2,000 square feet. Board member Joe Daugherty told them new, larger equipment coupled with current spacing troubles were the primary reason for needing more space.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574