A plan to accept Mercy Health-Mount Airy Hospital as a gift and convert it into the Hamilton County crime lab is in limbo after a tie vote by the county’s Board of Elections, which under a county plan would move there, too. Republicans want to move the Board of Elections to Mount Airy, saying it would be more efficient than the current operation, is closer to more county voters and has better parking. Democrats want at the least to keep early voting Downtown, near the public transportation hub. In the 2012 presidential election, more than 24,000 people voted early, in-person, at the Downtown location. The four-member board Monday twice voted 2-2 along party lines, first on whether to move board offices and early voting to the former hospital in Mount Airy, the second time to move the office but keep early voting Downtown. Ohio law calls for Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted to break the tie – if he wants to. Husted, who is running for re-election in November, could determine the issue is local and stay out of it. A spokesman said Husted is encouraging the board to “take another look at it.”
“We’re hopeful they will revisit the issue and come up with a compromise,” spokesman Matthew McClellan said.
Board of Elections member Alex Triantafilou, a Republican,and Democratic Chairman Tim Burke will share their arguments Tuesday, they said.
The Republican-controlled Hamilton County Board of Commissioners discussed the move Monday in a private meeting with county lawyers. The commission has until Jan. 31 to accept the gifted property, which totals 500,000 square feet.
Commission President Chris Monzel said there is no will to move the Board of Elections without a majority vote to do so.
The county can’t afford to move just the crime lab. Another county office needs to go into the space to help make it economically feasible.