Miami County BOE contracting to help run operation

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Miami County BOE contracting to help run operation

The Miami County Board of Elections says it is struggling after losing its top two administrators and has contracted with an independent vendor for technical assistance.

The BOE lost its long-time director and deputy director within six months.

To prepare for the May primary, the board approved hiring technical assistance from voting machine vendor Dominion at $1,400 a day.

A new director, Drew Higgins, was hired in January. Eric Morgan is in his first month as deputy director. Neither has any election office experience. The office has two other full- time employees.

Dominion has already spent a day helping the new election administrators prepare machines for voting and training staff on voting machines. The board also has agreed to a two-day contact to have a technician on hand May 6 and 7.

“If we have to pay extra to have expertise in here to have a good election, that is what we have to do,” board member Robert Huffman Jr. told the administrators.

Higgins told the board earlier this month that he’d like weekly board meetings until the election. “For the time being, I am not confident telling you guys we won’t need the meetings,” he said.

Higgins and board Chairman Roger Luring met with county commissioners April 10 to discuss a problem in election office use of the county postage machine to mail 30,000 voter notification cards. Higgins said he was unaware of a postage limit and apologized for using up available postage for county offices that took a couple of days to replace.

He said part of the problem is the former administrators handled many office functions the staff was never trained to do. “I don’t want this to appear as a slam on past administrators but I am finding the way some things were done is the incorrect way of doing them,” Higgins told the commission.

Commissioner John “Bud” O’Brien said the office was willing to help. “You should probably wear a path between your office and this office to talk with Leigh (Williams, commissioners’ administrator),” he told Higgins.

Steve Quillen, elections director for a decade, resigned abruptly in October just weeks before the presidential election, claiming election-related stress.

The board March 14 signed a separation agreement with Pam Calendine, who has since said she was forced out as deputy director. She worked in the office nine years.

The elections board received good news April 18, learning the office was asked by the Secretary of State’s Office to participate in a free pilot project in which a retired elections official will visit the elections office April 22 and 28 to provide operating tips.

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