Board of Elections raises concerns about budget appropriations


By Kyle Shaner - kshaner@sidneydailynews.com



SIDNEY – The Shelby County Board of Elections will seek further dialogue with the Shelby County commissioners after its 2021 appropriations came in lower than its budget request.

The Board of Elections requested $434,008 from the commissioners for its 2021 budget. However, the appropriations from the commissioners came in $82,570 less than the requested amount.

“We don’t feel that the money allocated will sufficiently enable us to carry out the roles and responsibilities we’re required to carry out,” Chairman Jim Kerg said during Tuesday’s Board of Elections meeting.

While the board could find some areas to save money, Kerg said, its responsibilities such as conducting elections, maintaining voter registration, and supporting candidates and campaign financing are required by the Ohio Constitution and must be funded.

The board usually spends less than its available budget, Kerg said, but it must be prepared for a worst-case scenario.

“We did raise several points from our budget that we feel are not adequately addressed,” he said of the board’s response that was sent to the commissioners. “We summarized what those points were and why we felt the way we did.”

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, ‎Deputy Director Collin Claywell reported that an automatic door was installed at the front of the Board of Elections office to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The board received an extension to May 30 from the state to complete two other accessibility projects and utilize Help America Vote Act grant funds. One project will address handrails at the back entrance of the office and the other is for accessible parking at the office, projects that also will require county approval.

Director Pam Kerrigan is gathering information to present to the county auditor for chargebacks, which are election expenses that can be charged to groups, such as school districts and fire districts, that place tax levies on a ballot.

For last year’s three elections, Kerrigan said, she will submit $35,681 in chargebacks to the auditor. Of that, $12,762.01 will be to Sidney City Schools for the August 2020 special election; the entire cost of running a special election qualifies for chargebacks. Ultimately, the auditor determines whether or not to seek chargebacks.

The board discussed the early-voting center and concluded it likely won’t have to use the back room of the Board of Education office for early voting like it did in 2020, at least not during the May primary and potential August special elections, as turnout tends to be much lower in those compared to presidential elections.

Rather than using the back room, the board likely could use the front entrance of the office to conduct early voting. Having early voting in the front of the office would require fewer additional workers and thus save money.

The 2021 election cycle will include city council, village council, township trustees and school board races along with issues including potential tax levies.

Kerrigan and Claywell attended four days of virtual Registered Election Official classes last week. The classes covered voter registration, election administration plans and contingency planning, redistricting in Ohio and voting equipment.

Because of delays with the census, the redistricting process likely will be delayed, Claywell said, but it still should be completed in 2021.

Redistricting, which occurs once every 10 years, determines the districts for state representatives, state senators and U.S. representatives. Redistricting will be done at the state level.

Claywell conducted a post-election survey of poll workers following the 2020 general election. Overall the feedback was positive.

The county had 244 poll workers for the 2020 general election. While that’s a good number, Claywell said, he’ll need to continue recruiting potential poll workers and keeping current ones engaged.

The board plans to discuss the results of the poll worker survey and conduct annual staff evaluations in February.

The board’s copier lease is expiring, and a new lease will need to be signed, Kerrigan said. The proposed new copier is very similar to the current one but does have color printing capabilities, she said. There would be a slight increase in cost to $132.10 per month, which would require approval from the commissioners.

By Kyle Shaner

kshaner@sidneydailynews.com

Reach the writer at kshaner@sidneydailynews.com or 937-538-4824.

Reach the writer at kshaner@sidneydailynews.com or 937-538-4824.