Wednesday, April 13th, 2011
By William Kincaid
Superintendent calls polling place disruptive; requests removal
St. Henry schools superintendent Rod Moorman again asked the Mercer County Board of Elections to remove the polling location from St. Henry High School.
"It disrupts the school day," Moorman told board members during a meeting Tuesday morning.
He also stated safety concerns, pointing out an incident in May 2010 when a Montezuma man reportedly threatened to get a gun and return to the Franklin school polling location.
"That's always something we're worried about," he said.
Moorman also made this request after polling locations were moved to some schools in 2008 because they were the only public locations that met all state requirements, including handicapped accessibility, parking and signage.
Fort Recovery Local Schools officials also have requested removing the polling location from their school.
Superintendent Pat Niekamp said he has heard concerns from community members who want it returned to the American Legion Hall, which is easier to access.
Board of elections chairman Owen Hall said the issue will be tabled for now as polling locations are set for the primary election May 3.
At an April 8 elections board meeting, member Toni Slusser made a motion to move the St. Henry and Fort Recovery polling locations to the American Legions in each town.
Republicans Slusser and Hall voted yes, while Democrats Betty Cook and Mark Uhlenhake voted no. The motion was defeated due to not having a majority.
According to minutes from the meeting, Cook said her vote was based on calls from voters who were frustrated with frequent changes in polling locations and the cost associated with the changes.
"Mr. Uhlenhake stated that he was reluctant to open those gates, with the possibility of other schools deciding they did not want to provide space either. He did not want to burn any bridges if at some point we needed to return to the schools," the minutes say.
Board members on Tuesday resumed the discussion.
"We need to make a good decision we can live with long-term," Slusser said.
Deputy director Laura Bruns contacted several poll workers from St. Henry and Fort Recovery, many of whom reported they liked having elections at the Legions. The Legions would offer the facilities rent-free, Slusser said.
The board of elections would have to pay $1,687 in postage to notify 2,800 voters in St. Henry and 3,600 voters in Fort Recovery, according to Mercer County Board of Elections Director Deb Sneddon.
She said a handicap sign would be needed at the Fort Recovery Legion. Also, a threshhold issue with the door would need to be addressed for handicap concerns.
There also is a threshold issue with the door at the St. Henry Legion, which also needs one more handicap parking space, she said.
Sneddon said there are federal grants available to pay for temporary and permanent improvements.
Slusser on Tuesday said she was unable to find a specific reason why some of the polling locations were moved in 2008. She said her comments were not a reflection on board members, but the previous administration.
Moorman also said he was never given a straight answer why the polling location at the St. Henry Legion, which was used for so many years, was moved to the school.
"There really wasn't a clear answer to why that happened," he told board members.
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