Board of Elections approves move to Norwood

Posted at 8:28 PM, Feb 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-04 10:12:49-05

NORWOOD, Ohio — The Hamilton County Board of Elections has its sights on Norwood for a new home.

In a 4-0 vote Wednesday morning, the four-person board approved the relocation of its headquarters at 842 Broadway in downtown Cincinnati to 4700 Smith Road in Norwood.

According to Sherry Poland, director of elections for Hamilton County, the board will work with the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, which oversees the board’s budget, to negotiate a deal to purchase the property.

The board currently operates out of two facilities: their Downtown headquarters, which serves as the county's early voting center, as well as a storage facility on Red Bank Road in Fairfax, which houses election equipment throughout the year.

The board's lease agreements at both the Downtown and Fairfax facilities are set to expire at the end of 2016.

One of the benefits of the new location is that it will bring all of the Board of Elections’ operations under one roof, according to board member and Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman Alex Triantafilou.

He also said it will give the board the opportunity to design a space around more modern needs and will be more accessible to a greater portion of the county as a whole.

“It’s more centrally located to the geographic and population center of Hamilton County,” Triantafilou told WCPO by phone Wednesday afternoon, “with ample free parking for citizens and voters.”

As WCPO has previously reported, the plan to move the board's headquarters out of Cincinnati has met some resistance from city officials, including Mayor John Cranley.

A similar plan was introduced but later rejected in 2014 to move the headquarters to Cincinnati's Mount Airy neighborhood, with opponents criticizing the plan as restricting access to Cincinnati voters.

Cranley sees the same problem with this new plan.

"I still think it’s important to keep the Board of Elections in Downtown Cincinnati,” said Cranley in an email to WCPO Wednesday evening. “If that doesn’t happen, then it’s crucial that we keep an early voting location somewhere Downtown, preferably near Government Square. This is the main transit hub for the Metro bus system, which is so important to people who don't own a vehicle.

“We must do all that we can to ensure voting remains convenient and accessible for all of our citizens,” Cranley said.

Currently, Cincinnati Metro serves the half-mile radius surrounding the proposed new location on three of its more than 70 routes, two of which stop at the nearby intersection of Montgomery Road and Sherman Avenue roughly every 20-30 minutes. The third route only stops once hourly before 8 a.m. and after 3 p.m.

But Triantafilou, who has pointed to the Norwood relocation's bipartisan support among board members, dismissed Cranley's opposition as unfounded politicking.

“The mayor is playing politics here,” Triantafilou said. “This is none of his business. (The Board of Elections) represents all of Hamilton County, not just one city.

"He should mind his own business.”

The matter now moves to the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners to negotiate the purchase.