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Stark elections board seeks emergency generator

July 08,2016 02:13

CANTON A brief power outage at home is typically no big deal; you light a candle and go pioneer-style for a few hours. But a power outage that cuts electricity to the Stark County Board of Elections would be a bigger issue. And if it occurred on ...and more »



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CANTON A brief power outage at home is typically no big deal; you light a candle and go pioneer-style for a few hours.But a power outage that cuts electricity to the Stark County Board of Elections would be a bigger issue. And if it occurred on election night, and delayed vote-counting in November's presidential race, for instance, that could be a disaster. So members of the four-person politically bipartisan board have been pushing for more than a year for the purchase of a generator that can keep the place open during a power outage.The members -- Republicans Curt Braden and William Cline and Democrats Sam Ferruccio Jr. and William Sherer II -- discussed the issue again during a board meeting earlier this week. All agree the board's county-owned headquarters at 3525 Regent Ave. NE needs outfitted with a generator, and the sooner, the better.The elections board is funded largely with general fund tax dollars, via the county commissioners. And it appears a generator will be coming, though it's unclear if it can occur by the Nov. 8 election. "This has been a process of elimination," said Stark County Administrator Brant Luther. Initially, he thought a used generator from the county's sanitary sewer department might suffice. However, it was found to be not large or powerful enough to run elections functions that includes uploading and tabulating cards from more than a thousand touch-screen machines on election nights. Luther said Stark County Facilities Manager Lee Henderson has received quotes of between $75,000 and $100,000 for a diesel-powered generator and related design and connection work. The lower estimate would provide a generator large enough to operate core elections functions, while the larger amount would power the entire building. "It's definitely in the works ... on the grid," Luther said, adding it still could be possible to complete the project by Nov. 8. Elections officials didn't have to worry much about electricity disruptions when the headquarters was located on Third Street NE in the downtown because most nearby power lines were underground. The board's office was moved to the renovated former Cohen-Joliet building on Regent Avenue two years ago.Board members say they're trying to be proactive. Election night itself isn't their only concern. The board's office also is open to the public for early voting for more than a month prior to each election day.And they need look no further than one county to the north to realize a power outage, especially on an election day, could be a crisis. On March 14, the day before Ohio's primary, the Summit County Board of Elections could have been without electricity when Ohio Edison had to shut off a transformer due to an oil leak. The electric company placed a generator to keep the board running through the primary, and the elections board itself had another on standby.Page 2 of 2 - Reach Tim at 330-580-8333 or tim.botos@cantonrep.comOn Twitter: @tbotosREP

By Tim Botos
Repository staff writer

Posted Jul. 7, 2016 at 5:25 PM

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