Miami County Board of Elections seeking larger space

TROY – The Miami County Board of Elections says it needs more space to conduct safe and secure elections.

Elections administrators and board Chairman Dave Fisher told county commissioners last week they are working with the owner of a space on West Market Street in Troy that would meet their needs.

The commissioners, saying they aren’t ready to pay rent for a space outside county buildings, asked the election officials to work with them on trying to identify a workable option.

They agreed to regular meetings to explore possibilities, but Fisher said after the meeting the elections administrators would continue with plans and discussions for leasing the space. The initial cost to lease was discussed at $14 per square foot with more than 7,000 square feet needed.

The elections office is located on the first floor of the county Courthouse.

Election officials said they have outgrown the available space due to changes in elections, including more early and absentee voting in recent years, and security requirements for storing equipment and other information.

The elections office had been using other space on the Courthouse’s first floor but one of those areas was converted to the home for the county human resources department and another space is being proposed for multi-use. The multi-use space would be used for a Municipal Court jury room, when needed, but also could be reserved for various uses by the elections office, said county Administrator Charlotte Colley.

“We don’t want to be an adversary,” Commission President Ted Mercer said. “We are trying to shuffle the deck to get what (space) all departments need. We will continue to work with you. I am not prepared to lease a building.” Commissioners Greg Simmons and Wade Westfall said they agreed.

Commissioners talked with the election officials about other possible space including an office on the first floor of the Hobart Center for County Government and storage of equipment in a locked storage area on that building’s lower level. The storage space could be made available in the near future but the office space on the first floor is now occupied by the county Department of Development.

That department is scheduled to move to the new county One Stop Center, which won’t be ready for use until late 2023 or early 2024.

Another option was the elections office remaining at the courthouse and storage being moved to the Hobart Center, which is two blocks from the Courthouse.

Election officials said they were concerned about having equipment located in a building different from the elections office. Security and the need to access equipment for testing and other purposes were mentioned among concerns.

Fisher said the elections representatives were shown the Hobart space a year ago. Boards of elections across the country are being watched closely during each step of the election process, he added.

“It is not a good workable solution for us. I wish it was,” said elections Director Laura Bruns said of the Hobart Center proposal.

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