Board of elections looking for more space

By Wayne Allen

October 6, 2013

Wayne Allen

PDT Staff Writer

According to Randy Basham, Chairman of the Scioto County Board of Elections, the board has been looking for a new work space or expanding office space for sometime.

He said the need for the additional space comes over concerns that residents who chose to vote early have to vote in the Scioto Courthouse lobby.

“We’ve needed more space for sometime,”Basham said. “It’s to cluttered inside the board of elections office for privacy when voting. So, we’ve moved that just outside of the office and partitioned part of the lobby off.”

Basham said the need for additional space has come from the evolution of the voting process in Ohio.

“We have more machinery in there (the board of elections offices) now and more documents to work with than ever before,” Bashman said. “As a result we are spaced out. We have four full-time employees of the board and by the time they bring staff in to help with the election, people are just walking over top of people.”

He said the board of elections has looked at locations outside of the courthouse as a possible solution.

“One of the places we looked at was the courthouse annex. That was before the Prosecutor’s office moved in,” Basham said. “We’ve been trying to work with the (Scioto County) commissioners to see if they could workout something with the engineers office.”

Currently located next to the Scioto County Board of Elections in the courthouse is the offices of Scioto County Engineer.

Basham said, the space currently occupied by the Engineer’s office would be perfect for their needs.

When asked about the situation, Commissioner Mike Crabtree said, “They (the board of elections) said by next year they are going to need to have more space. It’s going to be interesting because we have not figured out where we are going to put them.”

Commissioner Skip Riffe said finding new or expanded space for the board of elections presents a set of unique challenges.

“We can’t use the fourth floor because they have to be in a space that’s accessible to people wanting to vote,” Riffe said.

When asked about the possibility of moving the Engineer’s office, Crabtree said, “What he’s got going on here (inside the Engineer’s office inside the courthouse), the auditor takes care of in a number of other counties.”

Riffe pointed out that in the 1960s and 1970s it was important for the engineer to have a presence inside the county courthouse.

“As time has gone by and especially now, whether it’s because of technology or what, there is not that great of a need for that presence in the courthouse,” Riffe said.

There has been a debate among county officials as of late as to where the public tax map terminal should be kept within the courthouse.

The commissioners recently received a legal opinion from Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Danielle Parker concerning the location of tax maps terminal.

According to Parker, Section 5713.09 of the Ohio Revised Code further provides the maps shall be of the use of the county board of revision and the auditor, and shall be kept in the office of the auditor.

“I am of the opinion that the tax maps are required by section 5713.09 of the Ohio Revised Code to be kept in the Auditor’s office. Thus, due to my understanding that is the current practice of Scioto County to only maintain tax maps in digital form upon the public terminal system until otherwise requested to provide a paper copy of specifically requested tax map set to the requesters parameters, the public terminal presently located within the courthouse office of the Scioto County Engineer is required to be located within the office of the Scioto County Auditor.”

When asked if the recent legal opinion changed things, Riffe said, “Once we got the legal opinion that it’s (tax maps) our responsibility, that was the writing on the wall that things are likely going to be changing.”

Both Crabtree and Riffe pointed out the commissioners have to authority to assign space within the courthouse.

“If he (Opperman) wants stay here I think we should make every effort to provide him some space,” Riffe said. “There are still people that come into his office and ask questions, but it’s not like it used to be.”

Opperman said he is not opposed to moving as long as the space would meeting their needs.

Opperman said he has been working with Todd Book, Scioto County Interim Economic Development Director, on looking at options.

“We’ve been in conversations with Todd and he’s working on all of that,” Opperman said.

Opperman said, his opinion on the situation would depend on what space is available.

“We have certain requirements for our space that we need. That’s what it’s going to boil down to; having enough and adequate space,” Opperman said.

Book said the conversation has centered around the board of elections needing additional space.

“There is talk that we have to do something with the board of elections. The board of elections is saying they need more space. Now whether it’s going to be him (Opperman) or someone else, I don’t think anyone has made that decision yet,” Book said. “At this point I think, the commissioners are looking at all options that relates to additional space for them (board of elections). There have been no decisions made at this point, any kind of resolution is a long way away.”

Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or tallen@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.