Miami County Board of Elections purchasing ‘new’ 19-year-old back-up server

By Sam Wildow -

MIAMI COUNTY — The Miami County Board of Elections is cutting it close to obtaining a back-up server before the Nov. 3 election.

“As a guy who’s in the middle on the technology thing, we have to get a server that has been certified and approved by the Secretary of State,” board member Bob Huffman said during their meeting on Thursday afternoon. “And we also have to get a server that is compatible with the technology that we currently have.”

Deputy Director Eric Morgan stated Huffman was correct on both those assertions.

“Is there a new server — not new to us, not new guts, not new paint, legitimately new — that meets those two criteria?” Huffman asked.

“From what we have heard, no,” Morgan said.

Morgan and Director Bev Kendall explained that in order to work within the previously stated limitations, the only option to get a “legitimately new” server would be to purchase new software, hardware, and voting machines for approximately $880,000. They could also lease that same equipment for six years for approximately $140,000.

“We can forget about that option,” Huffman said later on.

The only other option left with the board was to purchase a “new” 19-year-old server for approximately $7,000. The board is also not permitted to build their own server.

“Well, we have to have a backup server or we’re not doing our job,” Huffman said.

The board voted to go forward with purchasing the 19-year-old server for approximately $7,000. Morgan and Kendall stated that they would find the money within their budget to do so. Board member Jose Lopez stated that they would also go to the Miami County Commissioners.

During the meeting on Thursday, the board also discussed an issue on the ballot with the Miami County Educational Service Center (ESC) Board of Education in Troy. Morgan stated that Carl Bowman and Janel Hodges ran for full-term in 2011 when they should have run for an unexpired term.

“That put four people on the ballot when there should have been two,” Morgan said. The ballot was also incorrect in 2009, telling voters not to vote for more than one person when it should have said not to vote for more than three people.

“We are trying to figure out the legalities of how it should be, if we need to change it back, should we keep it the same,” Morgan said.

There are currently three people running for election to the Miami County ESC Board of Education in the upcoming election on Nov. 3, including Carl Bowman, Janel Hodges, and Neil Thiesing.

“There’s simply no authority to not have it as it’s supposed to be,” Chris Englert, assistant prosecuting attorney for Miami County, said. The prosecutor’s office’s recommendation is that the two positions that are up should be the ones on the ballot, and that the other two would run for their full election in 2017, Englert said.

“Right now, I think the board’s only option is to put on the ballot the two that actually are up,” Englert said. He explained that there are two full-term spots up for election and there are three candidates that qualify for those seats.

“The statute requires us to hold an election for two (people) in 2015,” Huffman said. The ballot for the Nov. 3 election will tell voters not to vote for more than two candidates for the Miami County ESC Board of Education.

“You may have two vacancies on your board or you may have to appoint them,” board member Jose Lopez told Tom Dunn, superintendent of Miami County ESC, during the meeting.

“We owe you and your agency an apology,” Lopez added. “This confusion should not have occurred, and we apologize.”

The board ended the meeting by ballot-proofing the Nov. 3 ballots.

By Sam Wildow

Reach Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall

Reach Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall