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New early voting site to open in Summit County

by taylor rosen | Reporter Published: August 19, 2016 11:56 AM

There will be a new permanent early voting site for Summit County residents opening in Akron in the next month.

County Council voted Aug. 15 to authorize the spending of $535,000 to purchase the necessary equipment and to furnish the building. The site is next door to the Board of Elections at the former home of Rubber City McDonald's, at 492 and 500 Grant St. The 6,000 square-foot site will end Summit County's search for an early voting location just months prior to the election.

"Typically, every presidential election year there tends to be a battle among the Democratic and Republican members of the Board of Elections as far as where an early voting center should be," said Jason Dodson, who was chief of staff for the late Summit County Executive Russ Pry. In "the late winter of this year, the entity that had owned the building contacted the Board of Elections and indicated they were going to be selling the property. They said, 'You've used us for parking in the past, and essentially, we want to give you the first opportunity to purchase the building from us.'"

The current elections board property isn't spacious enough to handle the expected number of voters this November, and purchasing the facility next door creates a sufficient amount of space and parking, Dodson said.

"Historically, it's been a bit of an issue," Dodson said. "This presented an opportunity to end that fighting and to provide a location that is really adjacent to the board. Having your early voting center next door instead of across town is more convenient and makes more sense."

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Most of the spending that was authorized Aug. 15 will be used to buy three technologically-advanced scanners that can process ballots quicker and more efficiently.

After months of researching, investigating and renovating done by architects, the building will be ready to go for the upcoming election in November, Dodson said. The new early voting center will solve an array of problems that only arose during election years.

"This provides people with an opportunity to come and vote early," Dodson said. "There will no longer be confusion about where the early voting center is located. It's going to be a lot more efficient for the Board of Elections to operate because they're going to be next door. They don't have to have separate staffs that will be a few miles away in separate locations."

"There's definitely a lot of practical efficiencies when operating next door to each other instead of having an early voting center elsewhere," Dodson added. "It eliminates the battle between Republicans and Democrats."

"The idea of us being able to get an early voting site that will work for us in the future is good for the voters and it's good for Summit County," Mr. Pry told Record Publishing Co. earlier this year,

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