Board preparing polling places

Auglaize County Election Board members are taking steps now to get into compliancy for voters with disabilities before the November presidential election.

“We have to have all the polling locations in compliance before the next election,” Auglaize County Elections Board Director Carolyn Campbell said of a list of areas still needing improvement as pointed out in a recent letter from Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s office.

In the letter, Husted said several suggestions were made after a recent ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance spot check on polling locations in the county.

“The purpose of these ongoing spot checks around the state is to assess polling location accessibility compliance with the ADA, the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and Ohio Revised Code,”

Husted wrote. “The goal is to ensure that all people, including people with disabilities, can vote with the same independence and privacy as any other voter. Your hard work and dedication to this effort has not gone unnoticed and is greatly appreciated.”

Polling place accessibility checklists previously distributed to all Board of Elections in the state were used to perform the randomly selected spot checks.

Items discovered that need to be improved in Auglaize County included an inaccessible entrance door with no sign indicating the location of the nearest accessible entrance at the United Steel Workers Hall and several issues at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) in St. Marys, including an entrance door not taking at least three seconds to close, an interior door weight exceeding the allowable 5 pounds, and aisles and pathways within the voting area — between tables and chairs — not being at least 36 inches wide.

In addition to areas of concern found by the state, Campbell said they are working with the Nazarene Church in New Hampshire to install level type door handles.

“We would like to have this taken care of this summer so we don’t have to worry about it in the fall when we are busy with other things,” Campbell said.

She said they can apply for grant money through HAVA for polling place improvements and while there are a few restrictions, signs and door knobs would be in compliance with those restrictions.

Auglaize County Elections Board member Bill Roth has looked into the issues to be corrected and for the most part doesn’t anticipate them causing any great problems to repair. Discussions still need to be had with owners of the buildings about them.

During Thursday’s meeting, board members also discussed the state auditor’s system for reporting fraud, which allows residents and employees of any public office to make anonymous complaints through a toll-free telephone number, the state auditor’s website, or by mail, with all complaints reviewed in a timely manner and kept as part of a log. Information about the fraud-reporting system is to be provided to each new employee.

In a letter from Auglaize County Auditor Janet Schuler, she said that House Bill 66 requires all elected officials to make their employees aware of the fraud reporting hotline established by former state Auditor Betty Montgomery in 2003. All new hires are to be informed of it and current employees must sign an acknowledgment form. Board members signed the acknowledgment forms on Thursday.