[Image courtesy of delpretemasonry.com]
A few weeks ago, I wrote about how Danvers, MA is struggling with the decision to consolidate the town’s polling places into a single polling place at the local high school.
Springboro, OH’s election office likely wishes it had that problem – the building housing its single polling place is being torn down. The Dayton Daily News has more:
Add more than 5,000 voters from seven Springboro precincts to the list of people affected by plans to demolish the Jonathan Wright School building.
On Tuesday, Sept. 22, the local school board is expected to vote to raze the former school now housing the Living Waters Lutheran Church and Springboro Community Action Center.
If so, Nov. 3 should be the last time voters from precincts 69, 70, 71, 74, 86, 88 and 89 cast their ballots in the former school at 40 Florence Drive, just southwest of the Ohio 73 and Ohio 741 at the center of Springboro.
“That’s a big polling place,” said Ellis Jacobs, a lawyer involved in voter rights issues. “It shouldn’t have a big impact. It depends on where they move it to.”
Warren County Board of Elections Director Brian Sleeth said his office was close to nailing down new locations and would post them on large signs as part of efforts to notify voters.
Sleeth said the school board’s decision to tear down the school spoiled the election board’s consolidation of the seven precincts at the school, beginning last November. About 5,600 voters are registered from those precincts.
“We moved it to one location because we thought it was a better location. Now they’re tearing it down,” Sleeth said.
The decision is doubly difficult because other previous locations had already been revealed as unsuitable and/or problematic:
Precinct 69 was moved from the Springboro Public Library, because of parking issues. Precinct 86 was moved from Lytle-Five Points Elementary School, in response to a request from the district based on student safety concerns.
Precinct 88 was moved from the Springboro Baptist Church because of parking issues, Precinct 89 from the Warren County Career Center because of the inadequacy of the space provided.
Precincts 70, 71 and 74 were moved from the First United Methodist Church because of conflicts with preschool and parking problems.
In the wake of the demolition, the county will go back to the community and seek new locations – changes which will cost taxpayers some money to go with potential confusion … but at least the new locations should be in place before next year’s presidential election:
Three precincts will probably be moved to the local Eagles lodge, while the board continues to assess options for the other four, Sleeth said.
“This is the biggest location we’ve ever lost,” he said, estimating it would cost about $6,000 to notify the voters of the change by mail.
“It just confuses the voters,” he added, particularly heading into a presidential election year.
The new polling places should be in place by March, when the presidential primaries will be held.
“It’s a practice run before a large general election. You don’t want to make this kind of change right before a large general election,” Jacobs said.
While this story is admittedly somewhat extreme, it does highlight the degree to which local election offices are dependent on suitable locations for polling places – and given that it seems that no one else in Springboro is complaining about the demolition, the kinds of places election offices can get as a result. As always, I’m sure the board will make do – but you can add a wrecking ball to the list of things that administrators need to worry about as part of their preparations for Election Day.