MIAMI COUNTY — The Miami County Board of Elections reviewed its first election using its new paper ballot system on Tuesday.
At the closing of the polls and complete tabulation of votes, 129 provisional ballots will be reviewed and counted at the Nov. 19 meeting to make election results official. The only race that may be impacted by the provisional ballots is the Newton Township/Pleasant Hill Joint Fire District’s levy, which was voted down by 25 votes.
According to the unofficial results, Miami County voters cast 16,462 votes with a 23 percent turnout overall.
The Board of Elections held its early voting at the Hobart Center for Government due to the courthouse plaza renovation project. According to Deputy Director Ian Ridgeway, 1,556 in-person early votes were cast at the center through Monday. Approximately 656 absentee ballots votes were cast. Approximately 14,250 voters showed up to the polls throughout Miami County and its overlapping districts. Chairman of the board Dave Fisher requested a complete audit of the Nov. 5 election’s results for the Nov. 19 meeting.
“It was a good day. This election was going to be a learning experience,” Director Laura Bruns said Tuesday evening. It was Bruns’ first general election as the director of the board. She was hired in April. Bruns previously held a director position at the Mercer County Board of Elections, where she started as a clerk in 2008. She is a graduate of the Ohio Association of Election Officials education program and was the Republican Election Official of the Year in 2016.
Ridgeway said there were a few issues that were to be expected, calling them “growing pains.”
Ridgeway said there was an issue in scanning ballots from Covington. He said staff scanned all 552 ballots by hand and re-uploaded the data and results matched accordingly.
Bruns reported to the board that there were a few reports of ballot bags not being placed property and two scanner issues, but all results were tabulated and approved by 11:30 p.m. Tuesday evening.
Bruns said the two scanners that became jammed or had other issues were quickly replaced. The board of elections has 94 scanners, 61 which were in use on Tuesday.
“We had plenty to swap,” she said.
All four board members, as well as Bruns and Ridgeway, visited various Miami County polling locations throughout the day.
Board member Rob Long asked what the feedback from voters had been, which Bruns said there were voters who complained they didn’t like the new paper ballot system, mainly due to the ballot being kicked out for errors such as incomplete ballots. She said she will meet with poll workers and staff in the coming weeks to discuss ways to improve the process. She said encouraged poll workers to write down their comments and questions to improve the system for the next election.
Fisher said he liked the new two-way radio systems to help poll workers at all locations troubleshoot issues simultaneously. Overall, Fisher said he was “very pleased” how set-up at the polling locations went on Tuesday morning.
Board members Audrey Gillespie and Jim Oda said they saw some potential issues with polling location accessibility, as well as signage for some polling locations.
Bruns said the office was making plans to replace signage next year.
Board members made various comments, complimenting all poll workers and support staff for a job well done and for their service.
A representative from Clear Ballot was present throughout the tabulation process. Secretary of State regional liaison Kenny Henning was also present during the evening.
Board of elections members had battled over the Clear Ballot paper system or a hybrid electronic ballot system, which would have been where the voter would select their choices and then the machine would print out a completed ballot. The board selected the Clear Ballot system, which cost $862,225 compared to the $1.8 million hybrid system. The cost of the Clear Ballot system was paid for entirely by state funds.
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