MIAMI COUNTY — The Miami County Board of Elections, recently named in a lawsuit, discussed the pending litigation in an executive session closed to public Tuesday evening.
The board met with Miami County Prosecutor Tony Kendell, Miami County Chief Civil Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Chris Englert, Director Bev Kendall, and Deputy Director Luke Scott to discuss the litigation.
Eric Morgan, former deputy director of the Miami County Board of Elections, filed a lawsuit in Miami County Common Pleas Court seeking financial compensation and to have his position restored.
The civil suit was filed last week against the Miami County Board of Elections and former Democratic board member Dean Tamplin.
Morgan is a Democrat and was employed with the office from March 26, 2013, until he was terminated by the board by a 3-0 vote on Jan. 24, 2017, after he refused to resign.
Morgan’s suit claims the board violated Ohio’s Open Meetings Act and alleges defamation against him. He is seeking compensation for damages in excess of $25,000 against the board.
The board also discussed personnel in regard to a possible pollworker conflict of interest as well as in regard to employee compensation during executive session.
Following that executive session, the board held their regular meeting. The board did not take any action in regard to the pending litigation nor in reference to a possible pollworker conflict of interest.
The board did approve a 2.5 percent salary increase for office employees per a resolution from the Miami County Board of Commissioners, which they discussed in executive session. The increase applies to Kendall, Scott, and other office employees with the exception of their newly hire front desk person, which is pending her 90-day probation period at the office.
The board also approved annexation splits and retractions during their meeting in regard to annexations in the Piqua-Springcreek Township and Huber Heights-Bethel Township areas.
“With the Springcreek Township and the city of Piqua being resolved by the commissioners, we need to remove that split,” Scott said, noting the voting district that was created for that area located off of U.S. Route 36. Scott said that it would remove the Springcreek voters from Piqua 1-A and also from Piqua 4-D precincts.
“For Huber Heights and Bethel, there’s a little — after going through and looking beyond our county, going into looking at our overlaps with other people to see — there’s a little bit that would be Huber Heights-Bethel Township, and then a little split down here that would actually be Huber Heights ward two,” Scott said.
Board member Audrey Gillespie asked Kendall and Scott what the office is doing to make sure that municipalities and townships let the board know about annexation changes. Scott said that he receives updates from the Miami County Engineer’s Office, but there is still a question as to when those annexation changes take effect. Kendall said that they are awaiting advice from Englert in regard to that question.
Following that, the board approved changes to polling locations. Those include:
• Elizabeth Township voters will be voting at First Baptist New Carlisle.
• Lostcreek Township voters will be voting at Fletcher United Methodist.
• Precincts that voted at Upper Room Church in Tipp City will be moved to Ginghamsburg Church.
• Precincts that voted at Victory Church in Tipp City will be moved to St. John Catholic Church.
• The Troy 5-C precinct that voted at Trinity Episcopal will be moved to Mid-County Church of Christ.
• The Troy 6-D precinct that voted at Trinity Episcopal will be moved to Troy First Lutheran Church.
The changes were made to find locations with more space, particularly in regard to Elizabeth and Lostcreek townships, as well as to consolidate polling locations. The board will be sending notifications to affected voters in those precincts per Ohio law.
The board also approved a couple of costs during their meeting.
The board approved a cost of approximately $8,260 for their voting machine vendor Dominion Voting to have a staff member on site at the board’s office for two days of election day support for the primary and general elections this year, as voters will be voting on candidates for Ohio’s governor. The staff member from Dominion will be there to assist with any issues with the voting machines or other Dominion products that the board uses.
Prior to the purchase being made, board members Dave Fisher and Rob Long each asked if the board historically had a Dominion employee on site during gubernatorial and presidential elections. Kendall said yes.
Kendall also said that there is a help desk that they could call.
“Our machines are older. Our technology is older,” Fisher said.
“It’s just a painful expenditure,” Gillespie said. She expressed concerns about the employee just sitting there in the office doing nothing on Election Day.
The board unanimously approved “to continue the support” from Dominion in having a Dominion employee on site during the upcoming elections this year.
The board also approved entering into a contract with BallotSync for use of their BallotSync Election Productivity Platform software. The cost of use of the software for the first year is approximately $2,562. The county is receiving a 30 percent discount for the first year, and the cost for future years is expected to be $3,660 per year.
The software allows the board to work more efficiently with neighboring counties on ballot issues that apply to multiple counties, like the recent Miami Valley Career Technology Center levy or past levies for the Tri-County Board of Mental Health and Recovery Services.
Scott said a number of contiguous counties are considering the purchase with Champaign County having already purchased the software. The only contiguous county not considering the purchase right now is Darke County.
“It’s going to save a lot of time,” Scott said.
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 451-3336