Issue regarding special Miami County elections board meeting solved -- for now

Issue regarding special Miami County elections board meeting solved -- for now

UPDATE @ 9:35 p.m. (Jan. 17): The Miami County Board of Elections resolved a dispute over a special meeting called for this evening by tabling agenda items until Jan. 22 so all four members could attend.

Republican member Ryan King claimed Democratic board Chairman Dave Fisher purposely scheduled the meeting for Thursday, when King said he could not attend.

King said Fisher wanted to prevent him from discussing and voting on agenda items about a voting equipment purchase, the 2018 election results and an executive session for personnel, employee discipline.

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A Republican member of the Miami County Board of Elections blasted the board’s Democratic chairman for scheduling a special meeting for Thursday evening without consulting schedules and including on the agenda items including new voting equipment the board has been arguing over for months, 2018 election results and a personnel matter.

“I would like it publicly known that this meeting is being held specifically in short notice, and without my involvement, on purpose, so that I would be unable to discuss and vote on the agenda items,” Ryan King of Piqua wrote in the email to Chairman Dave Fisher of Bethel Twp.

“I believe this is unethical and the meeting or agenda should be modified to accommodate a full board. This is not how the Board of Elections should function and I find your actions manipulative and dishonest,” King said in the email shared with fellow board members, elections Director Bev Kendall and reporters Wednesday night.

Kendall distributed the notice of special meeting Wednesday morning. The meeting is planned for 6 p.m. Thursday.

Fisher was asked by email Wednesday evening to respond to King’s email. He had not answered as of 11:30 p.m.

King said in the email, and in response to questions, he would be out of town Thursday evening. He noted the date was not discussed previously and the board has a monthly meeting scheduled for next week.

“Furthermore, the topics placed on the agenda are not specific to an emergency meeting and not appropriate to discuss or vote upon without a full board,” he said.

Kendall’s notice to the media noted the meeting was a special session versus an emergency meeting.

King said the board was notified Wednesday he would be unable to make the meeting and Fisher was asked to modify the meeting so the full four-member board could be present.

King said he thought the board did need to meet “promptly” about the 2018 election results issue but the voting equipment and executive session for employee discipline could wait.

“Those were tossed in there so that I wouldn’t have input and I can almost guarantee they will try to take action on items without me there,” King said. “I would have also preferred to have been a part of the 2018 election result discussion.”

The board at its December meeting couldn’t agree on the type of voting system that would best serve the county. The board has looked at full paper ballot voting systems and a hybrid system that uses touch screens to mark ballots, which then are printed and scanned.

The December vote on a motion by Fisher to buy a full paper ballot voting system was 2-2. Fisher and fellow Democrat Audrey Gillespie voted “yes” and King and fellow Republican Rob Long voted “no.” Long said his vote was with a caveat he would be willing to reconsider after obtaining more information on voting equipment at the state elections officials conference, which was held last week.