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The Summit County Elections Board has decided to increase the number of precincts from the reduced number of 298 it utilized in the November presidential election . Elections Director Joe Masich tells AkronNews Now one reason for the decision. " Three of the large municipalities in the county, Akron, Barberton and Cuyahoga Falls has redrawn through their councils, their ward boundaries, so they need to be redrawn regardless.
Masich says there is a second reason for the decision to once again increase the number of precincts, " There has been an increase in some of the precincts that we re-did last year from heavy voter registration drives in the presidential election that have increased the numbers beyond what the ohio revised code allows for active voters."
Masich says due to heavy voter turnout some precincts were overwhelmed by the increased number of voters they had to handle.
Masich says the county though will not go back to the original 475 precincts it had before trimming the number to cut costs before the November election. The number of precincts will be increased to between 370 and 400 for the September municipal primaries.
Summit County Council is expected to vote Monday on a $1.4-million appropriation for the Summit County Board of Elections. If approved, it would hike the board's budget to $6.1 million, much closer to what Director Joe Masich says they need.
"I would feel more comfortable with my request of $6.48 million and a $300,000 contingency," said Masich. "We're going to do what we can do and we're going to monitor it very closely."
The board spent $7.1 million in 2008, the last presidential election year. Since then, Summit County Council has been forced to slash budgets across the board. The elections board originally asked for $9.3 million for 2012. That request was met with a counter offer of $4.7 million. The two sides have been haggling over money ever since. What changed?
"We've provided them with some pretty good detail as to why we need the additional funds as far as man hours and postage costs and things, we've provided them with great detail," said Masich.
Masich says a big election turnout means they need plenty of people on the clock a few weeks in advance, plus other expenses. Secretary of State Jon Husted is telling county boards of elections to plan on half of the number of people who participated in the 2008 election to vote by mail in the upcoming election. In Summit County, that means 140,000 people would be requesting ballots and returning them through the mail. Elections officials say that takes human eyes to process each request by verifying voter registration and making sure all paperwork is correctly completed.
Another meeting, another tie vote for the Summit County Elections Board.
The board deadlocked today on a request by an attorney representing Akron City officials, and City Council President Marco Sommerville. He had asked the Board to quash a subpoena issued to the officials to attend a hearing to determine whether Akron City Council violated state law by publishing newsletters that advocated for or against local and statewide ballot issues.
Summit County Elections Director Joe Masich says The vote was split down party lines beginning with the Elections Board's Republican members, who voted against cancelling the subpoenas, and the two Democrats on the Board, who voted to cancel the order.
That means Secretary of State John Husted will have to cast the deciding vote on whether the subpoenas are to be enforced.
This is the third tie vote this year John Husted has been asked to break involving the Summit County Elections Board.
The Board has to file more paperwork with Husted next week as he decides another tie vote on whether an early voting location outside the Elections Board can be utilized before November's election.
Joe Masich says the attorney for Akron City officials asked the Board of Elections to quash their subpoenas ...
The Summit County Board of Elections found a way to resolve a problem with a vendor that broke Ohio law.
The vendor was contracted to provide optical scan ballots for the March primary election. Unforseen circumstances, according to RBM Consulting Spokesman Todd Mullen, the ballots were printed in Des Moines, Iowa rather than their intended production site of Macedonia. Ohio law prohibits ballots for elections being printed outside the state.
Mullen said during a public hearing today that he was aware of the contract and the law, but made the decision to allow the printing in Iowa so the ballots would not be late. The board of elections was not aware until after the ballots arrived here.
Board member Ray Weber asked how much the company would be willing to credit the board, as an invoice of about $75,000 is expected.
Mullen said he would knock 10% off the bill.
Not good enough to Weber, or other board members, who suggested 50%.
After that, the board voted to request bids for the remaining ballots needed in 2012, a job that was originally RBM's. RBM is still allowed to submit a bid. The company also has the maintenance contract on voting equipment.
The Summit County Board of Elections has a new director.
It's Republican Joe Masich of Green. Masich replaces Ron Koehler, who was told last month by Republican board members that they intended to appoint someone else.
Koehler attended the beginning of the meeting, then shook hands with Deputy Director Kim Zurz and left the board room immediately after Masich was sworn in.
Masich resigned as the court administrator for Summit County Common Pleas Court - Probate Division.
"It's going to be a difficult thing with the cuts, but I've always dealt well with the county and administration in my previous position and with county council and the executive and their finance department," said Masich.
Masich worked at the board of elections for a couple of years in the 1980's and now takes the top non-board position about 21 hours before the polls open for the primary election.
"I'm sure that with the deputy director and Mr. Koehler, my predecessor here, that they've prepared for tomorrow as they done in the past," said Masich.
The position pays $106,090 per year.
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