The Summit County elections board won’t be buying copiers to capture images of voters’ identification at polling places.
Secretary of State Jon Husted opposed the plan, siding with the Democrats on the board. He voted with his fellow Republicans in several other tie votes he decided in a ruling released last week.
The Democrats were pleased Husted agreed the board didn’t need to buy copiers for polling places. The Republican board members suggested this move after a woman provided her Kent State identification when she voted a provisional ballot in the March primary.
“That would have violated voter rights on some level,” said Tim Gorbach, the Democratic chairman of the board. “I’m not surprised he sided with us. I’m glad he did.”
Gorbach said buying copiers or some other type of copying device would have been a significant expense that the board couldn’t afford. The board is still in a battle with Summit County over how much the office needs to operate this year, with the two sides apart by about $1 million.
Alex Arshinkoff, a Republican board member, said Husted’s decisions are final and he “does what’s best.”
“I trust his judgment,” Arshinkoff said. “I’m sure we all do.”
Husted’s other tie vote rulings mean the board:
• Will keep a notation in poll books for poll workers to mark that a voter has presented valid identification when given a ballot. Husted did say, however, that a poll worker’s failure to fill out this notation “is irrelevant to whether or not the voter’s ballot counts.”
• May compile a list of potential attorneys to represent the board in case the board takes court action against Summit County for additional operating funds.
• Can hire two consultants — one chosen by the Republicans and another picked by the Democrats — to study whether the board should combine two computer systems it now operates. The Democrats have suggested this as a way to save money and board employees’ time. The Republicans are concerned about potential breaches of the voter registration system if the systems are put together.
Husted said the ideal would be for the board to agree on one consultant. Absent this, he said, the board can go with two. He did note, however, that this step is “conditioned on the board having the ability to pay the consultants from its budget.”
The secretary of state’s decision on the consultants made two other tie votes on this topic moot.
The board still has tie votes pending with Husted. The Summit board is among the four-member boards in Ohio with the most deadlocks, which results in the secretary of state making the decisions on these issues.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705 or email@example.com.