In reversal, BOE announces Severance Tower polling site will remain open for 2012
In a July 26 e-mail to Jane Platten, director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections (BOE), Cleveland Heights Mayor Edward Kelley asked the BOE to move precinct 4G back to Severance Tower.
The closure of the Severance Tower polling site was one of several polling changes presented to Cleveland Heights City Council on June 25 by Erich Stubbs, election support official for the BOE. [Reported in the August issue of the Heights Observer.]
According to Vie Strader, property manager for Severance Tower, residents received a notification with a mailed-on date of July 18, informing them that their polling location would move to City Hall.
Severance Tower, 25 Severance Circle, is a Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) property, described on CMHA's website as a “senior high rise.”
Strader said, “Everyone is elderly, handicapped or disabled—that is the criteria for living here. Most do not have transportation, and a large population is in wheelchairs only. Others use walkers and canes. It’s difficult for them to go anywhere else.”
Concerns that residents from Severance Tower would potentially be unable to travel to City Hall to vote prompted Kelley’s e-mail. Kelley explained, “A few residents called and complained. Too many seniors or disabled couldn’t get from Severance Tower to City Hall. We want to protect the rights of people to vote.”
Strader said that of the building’s 206 residents, 165 are registered voters, and “they are very happy” that they will be able to vote in the building.
According to Stubbs, while the Severance Tower polling site will remain open for 2012, it will be evaluated again in 2013.
Stubbs said, “I will be going out to Severance Tower on Aug. 15, to talk with residents about their concerns.” Stubbs said he hoped to clear up misunderstandings about the now-canceled move.
A major point of confusion was the question of transportation for Severance Tower residents to City Hall on election day. Strader said that she had been told that transportation would not be provided. Stubbs, however, said, “We were planning to work with CMHA and Paratransit.”
The BOE will send a letter to all precinct 4G voters, informing them of the change back, according to Platten. In an e-mail to Mayor Kelley, she asked for help from the city in communicating “this second move” to voters.
Referring to another change in polling location for 2012, Stubbs reported that he is also “getting calls and concerns about the Caledonia move, too, from folks coming from Oxford.” He plans to hold a meeting at Oxford Elementary School, which has been closed as a polling site, once school is back in session, to speak with affected voters there.
The polling changes in Cleveland Heights for 2012 are:
- Close Boulevard Elementary School polling place; move precincts 3C, 3E, 4E to Cleveland Heights Community Center (aka Rec. Center).
- Close Oxford Elementary School polling place; move precincts 5A, 5B, 5E to Caledonia School [Caledonia is part of the East Cleveland School District, but the building is in Cleveland Heights].
- Move precinct 2D (878 registered voters) from Fairfax Elementary School to Canterbury Elementary School. [According to Stubbs, this move is to accommodate the addition of precinct 2E (953 registered voters), which is moving from Lee Road Library to Fairfax. Precinct 2D is physically closer to Canterbury than it is to Fairfax, said Stubbs, who added that the gym at Canterbury is also larger than Fairfax’s, and thus able to accommodate more voters.]
- Move precinct 2E from Lee Road Library to Fairfax School (to reduce number of precincts voting at the library from five to four).
Kim Sergio Inglis
Kim Sergio Inglis is editor-in-chief of the Heights Observer. She lives in the newly designated Shaker Farm Historic District in Cleveland Heights.