SIDNEY — The meeting schedule is shifting around in the new year for the Shelby County Board of Elections (BOE).

The board voted at Monday’s meeting to move meetings in 2022 from the third Monday of every month to the second Monday of every month. Exceptions to this change will be the May 2022 and November 2022 meetings, which will be held the third Monday of those months so that an additional meeting to certify the May and November elections will not be required. Regular meetings will still be held at 10 a.m.

Under old business, the 2022 budget was discussed. Currently, the BOE is waiting on a full, final budget to be returned from the county commissioners, but Deputy Director Collin Claywell said the commissioners had given some notes on the budget so far.

According to Claywell, there is $35,875 less than what was requested from the BOE for the budget. An e-mail from Commissioner Tony Bornhorst stated that $5,000 was taken off from temp help and salary items, and that they removed the August special election for pollworkers.

Additionally, there is a difference on salaries. According to Claywell, the commissioners are going to approve 5% for all general fund employees in the county, which includes three full-time employees at the BOE.

The removal of the August special election comes after the Ohio House of Representatives approved House Bill 458, which would eliminate August special elections. The bill has yet to be voted on by the Senate. According to a media release on the Ohio Secretary of State website, the bill was created due to financial and administrative strains that special elections put on individual county board of elections. Additionally, low voter turnout can produce skewed results.

“August special elections generate chronically low turnout because voters aren’t expecting an election to occur. This is bad news for the civic health of our state. Interest groups often manipulatively put issues on the ballot in August because they know fewer Ohioans are paying attention. As a result, the side that wins is typically the one that has a vested interest in the passage of the issue. Voters are just as capable of voting on these important issues during the standard primary and general elections,” Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said.

In November 2020, Ohioans set a record for voter turnout of 74%. By contrast, just a few months earlier in August 2020, special elections were held in Hamilton and Cuyahoga Counties where voter turnout was only 11.8% and 6.8%, respectively.

Also addressed was the progress on the process of replacing the current Epoll book system with newer technology. While the BOE has spent time and effort in selecting a new system, including doing two sets of public demonstrations of each system, there are some concerns with their options, including capabilities and security.

“We were anticipating initiating the effort to forward this contract for the systems to the commissioners today. In the last two weeks, some matters have come to light that require further investigation, and therefore we will not be able to proceed with that contract progression today,” BOE Chairman James Kerg said.

The BOE met in executive session following the regular meeting to discuss the Epoll book systems and concerns with those systems. No action was taken.

The next meeting of the Shelby County BOE will be held Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, at 10 a.m.

By Blythe Alspaugh

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