With the Hamilton County Board of Elections members in a 2-2 political deadlock over a proposal to move its headquarters to the former Mercy Hospital in Mt. Airy in the College Hill area. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted may be the one to cast the deciding vote. The stalemate came at the Jan. 27 Board of Elections meeting following a public hearing on the issue, during which Republicans and Democrats expressed the pros and cons of it. Speakers on the Republican side said the move would be a sound financial decision in that it saves the county $700,000 in annual rental now paid for the Downtown office on Broadway, and Democrats opposed it as another move to suppress and disenfranchise voters. The Mt. Airy site is offered at no cost to the County. Cincinnati City Council members are unanimously against the move, following a vote on the issue.
The proposed location is nine miles outside of Downtown, and it would take inner city residents 45 minutes by bus to cast early in-person votes.
“The Elections Board is investing in a process aimed at suppressing the voting rights of the minority community,’’ said Cincinnati NAACP Chapter President Ishton Morton. “Republicans say they feel the offices are now located in Democratic Party stronghold. As members of the NAACP, we are looking only at the issue of accessibility to a fair and democratic process, and the Mt. Airy site does not provide that.’’
Morton said proponents make a good point about having free parking at the Mt. Airy site, but a move there would penalize those who do not drive cars, since there is limited bus service from the inner city to the site.