More than 19,000 Warren County voters will be sent to a different polling place in November.
The moves, in 18 precincts from Mason to Springboro, mark the third time in four years that the Warren County Board of Elections has moved polling places.
Several moves are being made because the existing polling place asked to no longer participate in voting. Others are reorganizations that board of elections officials say will provide more central locations for those precincts.
Moving polls can cause confusion for voters who still cast paper ballots at local church, school or other location they’ve grown accustomed to, said Diane Noonan, director of the board of elections in neighboring Butler County.
“They get very accustomed to where we are at,” Noonan said.
In 2016, Warren County moved two polling places in response to fears about safety, according to Brian Sleeth, director of the Warren County Board of Elections.
In 2015, more than 5,000 voters from seven Springboro precincts were told to vote in a new location due to plans to demolish the Jonathan Wright School building in Springboro.
The moves approved last month by the Warren County Board of Elections were made for some of the same reasons.
“It is no different, just that this is an extremely large move,” Sleeth said in an email.
In March, Montgomery County moved five locations used by 5,500 voters.
“It’s typical, we oftentimes have to change locations during the election cycles,” said Jan Kelly, Montgomery County Board of Elections director.
But poll moves are not standard operating procedure for some area election officials.
“We’re not moving any,” said Noonan. “Last election, we had to move one because a building was in litigation. We had to combine it with another polling location.”
One of the affected locations is Cornerstone Church on Columbus Avenue in central Lebanon, which was sold. Officials at first didn’t know what that meant for its availability in voting.
“A few days later, (new owner) Citygate called us and said they wanted to let us know as soon as possible that they were not going to participate in future elections,’ Sleeth said. “They were very nice, though, on the phone but told us that they had no interest in this.”
Brandy Wyley, operations director for Citygate, said the church was “in the middle of renovations” to be completed by next spring.
“We’ll revisit once the renovations are completed,” she said.
Springboro Baptist Church declined to continue participating as a polling place. Church officials could not be reached to comment.
Kings Local Schools also “asked us to move,” according to Sleeth. “There were concerns from parents and administrators that we had voting going on while students were in school.”
School officials could not be reached for further comment.
Two more precincts are being moved as part of the reorganization to locations more centrally located to the voters, according to Sleeth.
Cards have gone out in the mail advising voters of the changes. Sleeth complimented locations willing to take more voters even though the payment is only $50 per precinct.
“Obviously they are not doing this for the money,” he said.
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