Miami County’s elections board tabled its agenda after board members argued about the meeting. FILE

Divided Miami County election board delays key decisions

Democratic board Chairman Dave Fisher’s calling of the Thursday special meeting early Wednesday was blasted later in the day by Republican member Ryan King.

He said via email that he was unable to attend a Thursday evening meeting and claimed Fisher purposely scheduled the meeting so he couldn’t discuss and vote on three agenda items. The items included what voting equipment the board would purchase, 2018 election results and an executive session for personnel/employee discipline.

“I find your actions manipulative and dishonest,” King wrote.

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Fisher responded to King’s email Thursday afternoon, a few hours before the board’s special meeting. He claimed the other board members – Democrat Audrey Gillespie and Republican Rob Long – asked to have the meeting “sooner rather than later.” Fisher said he intended to hold the meeting unless “discussion or the change of heart of the other board members” convinced him otherwise.

Long read a statement to open the meeting that asked the board to table the items so King could attend. He defended Fisher saying he didn’t believe he was being dishonest, manipulative or trying to exclude King.

The board eventually voted 2-1 to table the meeting items. Gillespie voted “no.” She said the board needed to act quickly on the 2018 elections results item, adding it involved a “transparency issue.”

Fisher was asked after adjourning the meeting to outline the 2018 elections results agenda item because the need for transparency was cited.

“I would rather not until we have the full board. I would have no comment at this point,” Fisher said.

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The board has been talking about the voting equipment for months. It is charged with deciding what system would be best for the county for years to come. The equipment would replace touch screen machines purchased in 2005.

The board has looked at full paper ballot voting systems and a hybrid system that uses touch screens to mark ballots that then are printed and scanned.

A December vote on a motion by Fisher to buy a full paper ballot voting system was 2-2 with Fisher and Gillespie voting “yes” and King and Long voting “no.” Long said his vote was with a caveat he would be willing to reconsider after obtaining more information on voting equipment at the state elections officials conference, which was held last week.

“I was pleased to see the agenda items were tabled until we could all be involved. I appreciate that the board ultimately did the right thing,” King said.

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