Husted gives board time

WARREN – Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has given Trumbull County’s elections board two weeks to resolve the issue of precinct consolidation, a matter the board deadlocked on last month.

Placing the Republican-backed issue back into the hands of the bi-partisan board was done at the request of the board’s two Democrats, who asked the state’s top elections official to postpone casting a tie vote in favor of letting the board work out a solution.

Husted, a Republican, agreed and gave the board until Feb. 11 to have an agreement or else he will step in to break a tie vote on the proposal.

”We wanted to be the ones, as a board collectively, Republicans and Democrats, together to come up with a compromise acceptable to all parties and one that is in the best interest of the voters of Trumbull County,” board chairman Democrat Mark Alberini said.

Republican board member Ron Knight’s proposal would have taken the number of voting precincts in Trumbull County to 152, a reduction of more than one-fourth from the number now.

He said he’s open to further talks, which should happen when the board meets Monday.

”If the secretary is affording us the opportunity to consider more proposals here locally, I’ll certainly approach that with an open mind,” Knight said.

The board Jan. 7 split on Knight’s proposal, which he argued will save at least $60,000 a year and make precincts more equal in size, as well as improve elections.

Democrats argued the plan had too many potential pitfalls; that too many people per precinct would lead to longer voting lines and increased risk of mistakes at the polls. Also, the elimination of so many precinct committee people would hurt the grassroots work of the party.