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The Suburbanite
  • Board of Elections assessing damage from roof collapse

  • None of the 1,400 electronic voting machines were directly damaged in a roof collapse at the Stark County Board of Elections. But water damage remains a major concern.

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  • Maybe the Stark County Board of Elections does need a new home after all.
    County officials have been studying the possibility of moving the elections board from its downtown location on Third Street NE to the former Cohen-Joliet Industries building on Regent Avenue NE.
    On Wednesday night, a clogged drain caused a 25-by-25-foot section of the roof to cave in. The section fell into an area of the warehouse in the northeast corner of the Board’s office.
    The collapse didn’t directly damage any of the county’s 1,400 electronic voting machines. However, the ensuing flood of water that rushed inside may have created problems.   
    “We’ll have to see how many are damaged,” said Jeff Matthews, director of the elections board. “We may not know the extent right away ... because of the corrosive nature of water.”
    Elections officials and fire crews learned of the problem when falling debris set off motion detectors. By Thursday morning, the machines remained in the warehouse, awaiting a site visit from an insurance adjuster.
    Matthews said a crew is temporarily walling off the exposed section from the rest of the warehouse. The biggest problem, he said, is dampness and humidity around the voting machines.
    “It’s definitely not climate-controlled, as we speak,” Matthews said, adding that he won’t have detailed damage information until Friday.
    Support representatives from the Board’s two systems vendors — ES&S and Dominion — were on site Thursday to help assess damage. Matthews said both have offered to provide more machines, should they be needed for the county to hold May 7 primary elections.
    The Board had planned to deploy 1,262 voting machines to its 284 precincts for the election. However, Matthews said the election could be held with fewer machines than that, because the turnout is expected to be low.
    Elections officials have wanted to move to the vacant Cohen-Joliet site, formerly used by the Board of Developmental Disabilities. They’ve said it provides much-needed space, convenient parking and a more modern layout that’s better suited to accommodate early voters.
    Reach Tim at 330-580-8333 or tim.botos@cantonrep.com.
    On Twitter: @tbotosREP