What would moving Hamilton County BOE mean for those without cars?

Unsurprisingly, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) has sided with his fellow Republicans in Hamilton County and cleared the way for Hamilton County’s Board of Election offices to move from Downtown to Mt. Airy. The ruling came as a result of the Hamilton County BOE’s deadlocked vote on the matter, which went along party lines.

Such a move will not happen for several years, but when it does it will make Hamilton County the only urban county in Ohio without its election offices located in its downtown.

Democrats seem to fear that the move will make early voting more difficult for the tens of thousands of residents who do not own a car. Republicans, on the other hand, seem giddy with the prospect of the new site being surrounded by an abundance of “free” surface parking options.

So what would the move mean for those living without a car in Hamilton County? In short, it would make voting a lot more difficult – especially for those in the eastern part of the county. It would also mean that the elections office and lone early voting location for Hamilton County would be moving further away from the population center and where most people work.

Those coming from the transit center at Anderson Towne Centre would see a four-hour round-trip, if they made all of their transfers seamlessly and nothing ran behind schedule. Those in the center city, the most densely populated area in the county, would need to block out several hours to account for the two-hour round-trip journey from Government Square.

If you are trying to get to the new Mt. Airy location from the Glenway Crossing Transit Center, Uptown Transit District or Kenwood Towne Center, your travel time would largely remain unchanged. That is if those people lived within a close walk to those transit centers like those near Government Square. The reality is that each of those three areas are much less walkable and would take considerable time accessing on their own right, thus adding significantly more time to the journey.

Cincinnati Population Density Cincinnati Employment Density

Should Greg Hartmann (R), Chris Monzel (R) and Alex Triantafilou (R) move forward with this it will in fact make the elections office and lone early voting location more accessible for those with cars in the western and northern parts of Hamilton County. It would also, however, make it less accessible for those with cars in the central and eastern parts of the county, and also worse for those without a car at all.

What is troublesome is that those with a car have access to the existing site. Yes, they may have to pay to park, but that is a minor inconvenience that absolutely must be weighed against creating hours-long journeys for those without a car.

The burden would be shifted to those who already have the least in our community. We hope Hartmann, Monzel and Triantafilou realize this would be morally wrong and decide to keep non-back office and early voting operations of the Hamilton County Board of Elections downtown.

  • Eric Douglas


    • Jules Michael Rosen

      If you think that any of us are winning as a result of Kasich cutting funding for passenger rail and the streetcar, then you’re truly misguided.

  • Chooch Mcgoo

    So this only effects those individuals who want to vote early, correct?
    Not the absentee voter, or the individuals who vote at their normal polling location. Just the individual who wants to vote early?

    I’m not going to consider this corrupt until you can tell me a specific percentage of low income voters actually vote early.
    Until you can show concise facts that a majority of poor voters vote early, this post looks like a reactionary and painfully “anti-suburbanite” viewpoint.

    • The way I see it: either we (as a society) agree that early voting is a good idea, or we don’t.

      If we agree that early voting is a good idea, then it should be as easy as possible for people to do. It should be located close to the county’s population center to minimize travel time. It should be accessible to you whether or not you own a car. It should have reasonable hours that will allow people to vote after work and/or on weekends.

      If we don’t think early voting is a good idea, we should focus on other solutions to make more people participate in the voting process.

      Instead, Ohio Republicans have a track record of making early voting more difficult. By moving it away from the areas where people live and work, by trying to extend early voting hours for rural counties but not urban ones, etc. Why don’t they just propose eliminating early voting?

    • Chooch Mcgoo

      Since you chose to respond in lofty, abstract ideas instead of facts – I’ll do your homework for you.

      About 24,000 people voted early in 2012, the last national election. About 5.7% of total voters in Hamilton County.

      Assuming there is a horrible, sinister plot to disenfranchise these people and make their progressive votes go away (again, assuming all early voters vote democrat).
      Subtracting those 24,000 votes would lead to a decisive Romney victory – right?

      No – the President still carries the county by more than 1,500 votes.

      You’re making a mountain out of a mole hill. The new location is double the size, allows the crime lab to stay put and is an upgrade in facilities (for a cheaper price!!!)

      The move wouldn’t take place until 2017. Three years to accommodate public transportation to the voting center for those who want to vote early.

    • You may want to reread what I wrote. Nowhere did I claim that there is a “sinister plot to disenfranchise” progressives. I’m talking about making it easier or harder to vote early.

      Do you think that early voting is good or bad for our society? If you believe that it is good, let’s make it easier for more people to vote early.

      Now you are suggesting that we run additional buses so that people without cars can go to the BOE? What would be the additional cost of doing so, and wouldn’t it negate the cheaper rent at the new BOE location? Would we run buses directly from different neighborhoods to the new BOE, or would people first need to travel to Government Square and then transfer to another bus? Until you provide specifcs, you are just spewing “lofty, abstract ideas.”

    • Chooch Mcgoo

      I’m sorry – I’m not going to accept an argument on public transportation cost and the downside of their increase from a blog that bent over backward for the streetcar. The most expensive public transportation project the city has seen in 30 years.

      To answer your question – early voting is good for the very, very small percentage of people who take advantage of it.
      A more reasonable solution, rather than keep the center in a significantly outdated and undersized facility would be to simply keep the new center open for expanded hours on weekends say….eight weeks prior to primary and general elections.

      Or they can use the absentee system already in place. Its designed to accommodate those people who can’t make it to the polls for whatever reason

    • I guess my question would be what problem does moving the early voting location solve? What we know is that it makes accessing the lone early voting location in the county more difficult for those people without a car. Those people tend to be minorities and people of lower incomes, although not always.

      If the point is the make the best use of the donated property, then why not move the back office functions of the BOE and keep the lone early voting location downtown where it is still accessible to those with and without cars? Or better yet, why not advocate for more early voting locations? I would have no problem if we were talking about this in that context. Early voting would be much higher, and thus so would overall turnout, if we made it more accessible.

      You keep stating that it is a small number of people that this would affect, but that’s the thing. Each one of these voting decisions only affects a small number of citizens on their own merit, but when combined they are significant. Let’s open early voting locations all over the county, expand early voting days and hours, let’s streamline the registration process, let’s make it easier for college students to vote, let’s open up more voting locations so lines aren’t so long. And yes, let’s keep an early voting location in the one spot in our county that is well-served by public transportation.

    • Guest

      Love that the guy that refutes the article is the only one to bring up possible corruption.

      There’s 10x as much parking downtown and many have it for free or pay for it for work, anyways. If you read the BOE minutes, you’ll see the situation Triantaflou and his few loony supporters have painted is one of the suburbanite soccer mom being able to drive and park for free without being accosted vs. the thousands of people that lined Broadway to vote early.

      Anyone that followed Husted’s attempted early voting changes in 2012, along with changes blocked by the courts in PA and VA knows what the current Republican strategy for Pres. victory is constraining voting as much as possible for the group that votes early since the Electoral College is immune to their gerrymandering. But all of this won’t matter until the GOP can come up with a legitimate Pres. candidate not named Jeb Bush. See you in 2016!

    • Chooch Mcgoo

      The early vote was 5.7% in a national election! It’s 24,000 people in a voting region of close to 500k.
      In the largest election possible, if you eliminated all 24,000 of them (and assume they all voted democrat) – the President still carries the county!

      For the very small percentage of people who do vote early, if transportation in not within their personal schedule, they can vote absentee.


    • This isn’t about partisan politics. It’s about whether we are ensuring that everyone has access and the ability to exercise their fundamental right as a U.S. citizen. If you think it is okay to reduce the count of people exercising their fundamental right as a U.S. citizen by 5.7%, then fine. We just disagree.

    • Ignore the troll. He’s just here to drum up controversy.

      Republicans say in private that “every vote counts,” then seem to say in public, “Well, this will only dis-enfranchise a FEW voters.” A few voters can make the difference between someone being on or off City Council, out of state office… even out of federal office. And the way Republicans see it, anything they can do to prevent even one Democratic vote goes in their favor. It equates to a poll tax for the poor, but hey, if it gets them elected, it’s worth it to them, right?

      We’re talking about a city where a former mayor drove around stealing brochures from poll workers in the last election to try to get his favorite candidate elected. Don’t put any official, from ANY party, above these kinds of ploys.

      The bottom line is everyone deserves the right to vote, and anything we do to disenfranchise even ONE voter is despicable.

  • Mark Christol

    Where does one go when folks like the OVIP challenge your registration? Would that require a trip to Mt Airy?

  • Eric Douglas

    Metro struggles exactly in trips like these that are extra to home-job. Mt. Airy is actually closer to the county’s population and job centers, but the logic the Republicans are fishing for neglects that the county seat and downtown are not in the central geographic location because we’re an older river town and were not a territorial capitol like Indianapolis or Columbus. This is going to hurt everyone, even people that drive, and if it does happen will be quickly reversed once lawsuits are filed.