The Summit County Board of Elections is completing its list of polling places for the November election. The job is more difficult job this year because the board remapped everything as a cost-cutting measure. 475 precincts have been reduced to 298, and there are now 150 polling places instead of 194.
Crowding? On paper, it's a potential problem, but not in reality, according to Board Director Joe Masich.
"We believe all the locations now will handle the quantity of precincts that we've put in the locations," said Masich.
That's because a growing number of people will vote in person or through the mail prior to November 6. Board Chairman Tim Gorbach hopes staff members can find some different locations for polling places that meet accessibility standards, but could attract too many voters on election day. 14 locations would each be home to more than 4,000 voters.
The board approved a list of locations, but realizes it's likely to be revised. There are two locations involving eight precincts that board staffers want to replace, including Redeemer Church in Hudson, which happens to the polling place for Board Member and Summit County Republican Party Chairman Alex Arshinkoff. There are accessibility issues there along with the Fairlawn Community Center, where people would need to navigate a long sidewalk at an incline that is steeper than allowed by the secretary of state. Most of the those standards coincide with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The church and the community center have been used as polling locations for years, but the board of elections says both should have been taken off the list.
Regardless of where people end up voting, the board plans to contact voters in a few weeks.
"A lot of people will still be voting in their very same spot, but we're going to send out a card to every voter so they will know where to vote," said Masich.
Masich says they've had trouble finding places that are large enough, meet ADA standards and offer enough parking. Schools are an option, but if classes are in session, school officials have to leave most of the doors locked, forcing people to push a button asking for entrance. That could be viewed by some as a blockade. On top of those specifications, some facilities simply aren't available to the board of elections