Site for early voting moved to former Chase Bank office
WARREN — When early voting for the primary starts April 5 in Trumbull County, it won’t be at the board of elections.
The board decided to have early voting at the former Chase Bank building, 2911 Youngstown Road SE, next to the board office.
The board had early voting there for the 2020 general election.
The change from the board office at 2947 Youngstown Road SE to the former bank building is out of concern for COVID-19, said Edrea Mientkiewicz, the board’s deputy director.
“There’s only one way in and one way out of the board office, and it can’t hold a large number of people during a large (turnout) election,” she said.
The board wanted to have a second set of doors added to its office, but that project hasn’t started, Mientkiewicz said.
The hope is the work will be done during the summer so the board doesn’t have to rent the closed bank building for the general election, she said.
“We need to get a commitment from the commissioners when they’ll start renovations on our building,” Mark Alberini, board chairman, said.
The county spent $5,600 to rent the building for the 2020 general election, with the cost coming from federal COVID-19 funding. The county has other federal COVID-19 funding it can use to pay the rent, Mientkiewicz said.
The cost of rent this year hasn’t been finalized with the property owner, nor has a contract been signed, but Mientkiewicz said she expects the rent to be the same as what was paid in 2020.
The bank building is undergoing renovations and currently doesn’t have a full floor, she said. A temporary floor will be added, Mientkiewicz said.
The former Chase building is an ideal location, she said, because of its proximity to the board office and because of the layout, which includes walk-up windows that previously were used by bank tellers.
“The building worked out extremely well the last time, and I’m sure it will again,” Alberini said.
With turnout so low during the 2021 primary and general elections, the board chose to keep early voting at its office.
Also Tuesday, the board forwarded four potential election fraud cases to the county prosecutor’s office to consider a criminal investigation.
Four signatures on petitions were from residents of Warren County with Trumbull County ZIP codes, Mientkiewicz said.
The petitions came from the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol committee, which is seeking to get a charter amendment on the ballot to legalize recreational marijuana.
The committee was told Monday by the Ohio Secretary of State it didn’t have enough valid signatures and had until Jan. 13 to make up the 13,062 it needed for the first part of the process to get it on the ballot.
The board also voted 3-1 to give raises to its employees who are in line with the county’s salary schedule. Ron Knight was the lone “no” vote.
The vote came after an executive session that lasted more than 70 minutes and was at least the third executive session on the matter in the past few months.
Overall, the raises increase the board employees’ wages by about $50,000, Alberini said.
The entry-level salary increases from $12.31 per hour to about $16 per hour, he said.
The increases were based on job responsibilities, experience and education, Alberini said, and are in line with what others in the county receive in salary.
“The salaries we were offering were deplorably low,” he said. “This allows us to be more competitive and retain and hire good employees. This is in compliance with the county’s wage and salary schedule.”