Workers making repairs after weather-related roof collapse at Stark County Board of Elections

Voting machines may be damaged, will be tested

CANTON, Ohio - Construction crews spent Thursday putting up a temporary roof at the Stark County Board of Elections after a large section of the building collapsed under heavy rain Wednesday evening.

Workers from Design Restoration and Reconstruction are building a pitched roof to replace the 832-square foot section of roof that crumbled.

"It's my understanding that when the roof collapsed, there were probably thousands of gallons of water when it splashed down all at one time and it had almost a tsunami effect," said Stark County Commissioner Tom Bernabei.

Fans and dehumidifiers are also spinning at high speed to dry out the building.

The deluge may have ruined some of the BOE's 1,400 voting machines that are scheduled to be used in the May primary.

Deputy Director Jeanette Mullane was most concerned about the bottom layer- 284 machines-  that were saturated and could be damaged or destroyed.

"We need it to maintain a climate-controlled environment, and at this point,... with a moonroof, I guess we no longer have climate-controlled," Mullane said.

After the damage is assessed by an insurance adjuster, the BOE hopes to move the machines to the Cohen Joliet building, also owned by the county.

Ironically, the BOE had planned to perform logic and accuracy testing on the machines today to make sure the equipment would be ready for the primary.

It's not clear how many of the machines are damaged, but Mullane believes the county will have enough to conduct the primary. If not, she said the county has already been in contact with their vendor and could order additional equipment or paper ballots.

"I do not believe it will affect the primary. Our office is open. We have electric. Voters are coming in to cast in person," Mullane said.

She added that voter turnout is typically low for a May primary. There are 19 issues, including two county-wide issues and several school levies, on the ballot.

Meanwhile, John Runion, the county's records custodian, spent the day checking out the basement where administrative, fiscal and legal records are stored.

Many of documents were soaked, but it appears the important items were spared.

"The records that did have water damage, 99 percent of those are backed up microfilm or were slated for destruction," Runion said.

On the administrative side of the building, workers reported to their jobs as scheduled since that section was not damaged from the collapse.

"We're assured by the building department that they didn't anticipate there's going to be any further collapse of this area," Bernabei said.

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