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The call, which went to 911, started like any other call to the police dispatcher, with the operator asking, “What is your emergency?”
With the March Primary coming up next Tuesday, early voting numbers are down considerably from four years ago.
Summit County Board of Elections Director Ron Koehler tells AkronNewsNow why he thinks the flow of people at the Board of Elections has been pretty sparse.
"Statistically, we know that Democrats take advantage of early voting much more than Republicans do and I think the Democrats are less interested in this year's primary than in 2008."
He says at one time during the week, less than 1,000 people showed up at the Board of Elections for early voting.
Koehler says there are many differences between this year's GOP Primary and the 2008 election.
"We had people lined up outside waiting to get in to vote during the last several days of over-the-counter voting during the last few days of the '08 primary, but it wasn't anywhere near that in this year's primary."
He (Koehler) says in 2008, when President Obama was was running against Senator Hilary Clinton, interest was as high as he's seen.
Koehler says the Board has made some changes in this year's primary according to state law.
"Walk-in voting here at the Board of Elections will end Friday at 6pm."
The Board of Elections also encourages those who are mailing in an absentee ballot request to do so as soon as possible.
The Summit County Board of Elections agrees on one thing about voting precincts: There should be fewer.
They do not agree on when that reduction should take place.
Republican members of the board want it to happen between the primary and general elections.
"If we're going to have savings, the number one place to have savings is to cut precincts," said Republican Alex Arshinkoff.
Democrats want it to happen after the general election.
"I don't think the money that we can save in one election this year is worth disrupting where everybody votes on election day in November," said Democrat and Board Chairman Tim Gorbach.
The board has been pressured by the county to spend less money.
Arshinkoff explained that fewer precincts means paying less rental or other facility fees, paying fewer people, using less equipment, etc.
It resulted in a tie vote that will be decided by the secretary of state.
The board also issued to two tie votes on another cost-cutting matter. Republicans want to eliminate the twelve District Pollworker Coordinators. They work on election days, plus mandatory training and make $4,000 per year and receive county medical benefits.
Democrats want to keep the positions and pay, but eliminate health benefits, saying the coordinators work as troubleshooters on election days.
Summit County Board of Elections members were not pleased to learn of separate problems with voter registrations and even some ballots.
Board staffers just discovered three absentee ballots from the election in November, although Deputy Director Kim Zurz says obvious problems would have prevented at least two of them from being counted anyway.
As employees attempt to update voter registration information - a task they admit hasn't been done in this way for about three years - they're finding problems.
In some cases, people are registered to vote but the board has virtually no information to back up the registration. Employees are finding about 8 - 10 of those cases per day.
An Akron city official was used as an example of someone who was registered to vote and voted regularly, but she was red-flagged at a recent election and had to vote provisionally. It turns out that her name was changed to something that doesn't even resemble or sound like any name.
Nobody knows how it happened or how many similar cases exist.
The Summit County Board of Elections is at odds over how to proceed with investigating a newspaper ad placed by Akron City Council last year.
It was designed to look like actual news coverage, titled Akron City Council News. The problem, according to Elections Board Member Alex Arshinkoff, is that governments can't tell people how to vote.
"If the Akron City Council can campaign against Issue 2, then what's to stop the state government or some township or anyone else from telling people to vote for Issue 2," said Arshinkoff.
The material urged defeat of Issue 2 and passage of some other issues. It also featured certain, but not all, candidates for Akron City Council.
The elections board previously voted to hold a public hearing that would determine if the matter was referred to the prosecutor and the sheriff for further investigation. Today, the board recorded a tie-vote on whether to rescind the previous vote.
Not only did the Republican board members want to move forward, they also wanted to expand the amount of material that could be obtained through a public records request of the city of Akron. That came up because Akron City Council President Marco Sommerville was quoted in the Beacon Journal as saying that a similar approach has been used for years. That comment prompted a discussion on whether to ask for previous copies of Akron City News for the last six years.
There was disagreement and lengthy discussions about the scope of information to be sought as well as the authority of the board. At one point, Arshinkoff wanted to hear the motion that ended in a tie to make sure everyone understood the exact wording. The recording device used required that the file be downloaded to a computer system on a different floor before the it could be heard. The process took more than 30 minutes.
Board Chairman Tim Gorbach said he was concerned about abusing the board's power to subpoena.
Democrats stood firm, so the tie-vote will have to be broken by the secretary of state.
People other than Republicans may wish they had a voice in the Republican presidential scramble, mainly between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. It was similar four years ago on the Democrat side, when everybody seemed to have an opinion on the standoff between Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton.
Switching parties is as easy as asking for the appropriate ballot when you vote in the primary election. In fact, Summit County Board of Elections Director Ron Koehler says it's even simpler now than it was in 2008 because a state-issued form is now optional.
"Our current secretary of state says that form is to be used rarely, only when the elections official has personal knowledge of that person's affiliation with a party and that they're changing," said Koehler.
The form does require a signature stating that you are a member of that party and will uphold its ideals.
Republicans and Democrats, together and alone, are far outnumbered by non-party voters. Despite interest in the presidential race, Koehler predicts that few people will become a Republican because of it.
Ohioans get their first chance to vote in the state's primary election Tuesday.
The election will be held March 6, but early voters can cast ballots at the Summit County Board of Elections offices on Grant Street in Akron Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
"We think we'll be able to take care of the people that will be coming in for walk-in voting without much difficulty for this primary election," said Board Director Ron Koehler.
He says they'll have 10 voting stations set up inside the lobby with the ability to bring in more if demand is higher than anticipated.
There are usually far fewer contested Republican races for Summit County voters to consider than the number of Democrats that go head-to-head. This election, however, the nation is watching the hotly contested campaigns of Republican presidential hopefuls. Koehler says interest in that race will prompt plenty of people to case ballots.
There are other reasons to vote, too. There's a contested Republican primary for U.S. Senator, contested Democratic primaries for Summit County Sheriff and Summit County Prosecutor, in addition to contested races for various Ohio Supreme Court, Ohio House and U.S. Congressional seats.
Norton city leaders are asking for more money to pay for safety services. Woodridge voters will determine a school levy.
Koehler says people can also ask the board to mail a ballot to them.
"Yes, and it takes care of the problem of waiting in line," said Koehler
The deadline to register to vote in the primary election is February 6.
The Summit County Board of Elections is taking a closer look at its budget, now that the county is divvying out much less than the board requested.
The elections board requested $9.6 million to operate in 2012. The county offered only $4.7 million.
Board Chairman Tim Gorbach says firmer estimates are needed from employees to determine things like overtime and temporary staffing so everything is lined up for the primary election in March.
"There are a lot of deadlines and we can't just decide that we'll put that work off until later," said Gorbach.
Specifically, issues such as properly entering information from 27,000 voter registration cards and matching signatures to prevent voter fraud, are among the assignments underway now. Board staffers admit they're behind. Board Director Ron Koehler and Deputy Director Kim Zurz seemed to agree that in addition to lower staffing levels, there are too many employees who are simply not pulling their weight.
Listen below as Alex Arshinkoff, then Tim Gorbach weigh in during today's meeting
Elections Board by AkronNewsNow
"I don't like the tail wagging the dog," said Gorbach. "If there are employees here who feel they are above doing certain things or do not do things because that's what the part timers are supposed to do, you have my full blessings to get that under control."
Board member Alex Arshinkoff said there are plenty of people who would take the jobs of those who under perform. He also told Zurz, to come up with and analyze productivity reports.
Staffing is one of the areas pointed out by county officials as a reduction target, mainly that there is too much duplication - a Republican and Democrat for too many positions. While the elections board doesn't seem to think too many employees is the problem, a more critical look at the quality of employees appears to be up for further discussion.
Zurz told board members that she and Koehler are doing a better job of obtaining temporary staff members who are qualified and capable of doing the clerical tasks that they're hired to do. She says they've spent too much time correcting mistakes made by the temporary help.
It looks like voters in Norton will see a fire levy on the ballot in March after all.
Norton officials planned on the 4.6-mill levy all along, but the Summit County Board of Elections put a snag in the plan by ruling that Norton used incorrect ballot language derived from the Ohio Revised Code.
It turns out the the board of elections was referring to an outdated version of a particular section. Norton had it right the whole time.
The elections board voted today to approve the proposed ballot.
Fire services in Norton are being reduced after voter reaction of a levy on the general election ballot in November.
It's official - the Summit County Board of Elections is on a short budget leash.
County council wrapped up its year and its 2012 budget process Monday night, putting the Board of Elections on a temporary three month budget through the end of March.
It comes after the county and the Board of Elections came to a four-and-a-half million dollar gap - between what the elections board wanted, and what County Executive Russ Pry was willing to fund for next year...$9.3 million, vs. $4.7 million...
"This buys us essentially three months to take a look at the operations of the board," county finance and budget director Brian Nelsen tells AkronNewsNow.com, "and in particular, compare that operations of the boards in similar sized (counties)."
Summit County finance and budget director Brian Nelsen on Board of Elections Budget by Akron NewsNow
Nelsen and other county officials say the elections board is overstaffed, and Nelson says that all other county agencies in the general fund were willing to reduce their budget due to economic conditions.
"Every agency was given a target budget number to achieve which was in line with our five year forecast that reflected lower property valuations here in the county, and also less funding from the state of Ohio in terms of revenue sharing," Nelson tells AkronNewsNow. "Every county office except the Board of Elections met those targeted budget requests from the county executive's office."
He says if March's primary election is moved to June, the one-and-a-half million dollar temporary budget could be reduced...since the election costs would be moved later in the year.
A budget for the rest of the year for the Board of Elections must be approved by April 1st.
The short answer: We don't know yet.
The mayoral runoff election in Richfield is still too close to call.
According to the Summit County Board of Elections, Bobbie Beshara has 558 votes. Ralph Waszak has 552, but that does not include provisional ballots or absentee ballots that may have been mailed within the deadline, but not yet arrived.
Beshara received the most votes in the November general election, but failed to capture at least 40-percent of the vote or lead Waszak by at least 5-percent. That scenario prompted the runoff, as outlined in the village charter.
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