Residents in the City of New Carlisle are learning that their polling place has moved yet again and this time it isn’t within walking distance. The November election will find voters driving or finding rides to Tecumseh High School if they wish to vote in person this year.

Under Ohio Revised Code 3501.22 the Board of Elections can locate a polling place outside of the “boundaries of precincts, provided that that nearest public school or public building shall be used if the board determines it to be available and suitable for use as a polling place”.

Boards throughout Ohio have been working to find locations that are ADA compliant. Director of the Clark County BOE Matthew Tlachac also noted that a location must offer enough parking, space and provide the voters access to the location.

In January of 2014, Tlachac noted that the Lake Avenue Christian Church and Sacred Heart Catholic Church had 24 concerns that needed to be corrected for the locations to continue as polling places. The board contacted Tecumseh Local Schools and requested use of New Carlisle Elementary. This location was suitable for three precincts. The school was used for two elections and then safety concerns were noted that could not be “overcome” according to Tlachac. This led to the current change outside the city limits.

Tlachac went on to note that in November of 2014 the school administration appeared to be planning to have Election Day as a professional development day at the school which would have reduced the security concerns. In today’s society, schools are locked down and having the doors open throughout the day for anyone to enter is a major safety concern at the elementary level. The increased traffic outside the school is also a concern for young children. To date no further discussion of this plan has occurred leading to the decision to move the polling place.

Moving the polling location to Tecumseh High School allows for voting to take place during the day due to direct access to the school gymnasium. The bi-partisan BOE took into account that federal and state law requires that the polling location be ADA compliant.

One solution for voters who cannot travel to the school would be to obtain an absentee ballot. You can vote now until Election Day at the BOE located in Springfield during regular business hours. You can also have a ballot mailed to you.

During the planning for the move, Tlachac reports that “no fewer than 18 various locations were visited to determine suitability for use as a polling location. A large number had ADA concerns which “could not be overlooked”.

Splitting precincts into smaller facilities would lead to increased costs associated with election equipment and the cost to state and local taxpayers to purchase that equipment.

Until all public facilities meet ADA standards, the BOE has no option but to move to public buildings which offer easy access and parking for all voters.

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