Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Lucas County election chief plans to seek bigger space



Toledo Blade Lisa Dutton Enlarge

With the increased demands of early voting and paper balloting, Lucas County Elections Director Linda Howe is planning to ask the county commissioners for more space to handle future elections.

Ms. Howe said the board's offices on the third floor of Government Center won't suffice anymore.

For the Nov. 4 presidential election, the elections board borrowed the county's EMS Training Center, 2127 Jefferson Ave., to accommodate the nearly 24,000 people voting early.

The elections board also used a large vacant space on the third floor of the Lucas County Family Court Building on Erie Street for organizing and counting thousands of paper ballots.

It was not clear whether the EMS building would be available for future elections, but Ms. Howe said the Family Court space is being converted for use by the county clerk of courts and won't be available.

She said a single building with on-site free parking would benefit the public.

"The parking is an issue for people who come to vote and to register," Ms. Howe said.

County Administrator Michael Beazley said the commissioners would work with Ms. Howe, but may not be able to accommodate her wish for a single building.

The county is so strapped for funds that the board of commissioners is considering closing exhibition halls at the Lucas County Recreation Center in Maumee to save on maintenance and has ordered all county agencies to cut their budgets by 5 percent.

"Obviously, the Board of County Commissioners recognize that the laws have changed and the challenges are greater than historically," Mr. Beazley said. "We have to balance those needs against the needs of the entire county."

A change that took effect this year allowed any voter to request an absentee ballot, in person or by mail. Also this year, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner ordered elections boards to make paper ballots available along with touch-screen voting machines.

County Republican Party Chairman Jon Stainbrook said the board of elections should bring its ballot-counting process into the same building as its other offices for security reasons.

"It's the screwiest thing in the world that the ballots are moved across the street," Mr. Stainbrook said. "You gotta find a way to do it all under one roof."

Ms. Howe said the board also would like to move its warehouse, where election materials and equipment are kept, into the same building as its other functions. Currently, the warehouse is located several blocks away.

Contact Tom Troy at:


or 419-724-6058.

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