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Cuyahoga County Council approves Board of Elections move to old Plain Dealer building

Early Voting September 14 Short Lines Ideastream Public Media Gabriel Kramer.jpg
Gabriel Kramer
Ideastream Public Media
Early voting at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections on Sept. 14, 2021.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections is moving to the old Plain Dealer building near Downtown Cleveland but not until after the November election.

At its meeting Tuesday, Cuyahoga County Council approved a $91 million, 17-year lease at the building on Superior Avenue that formerly housed the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The new space addresses some of the problems with the current building, said Board of Elections Director Anthony Perlatii.

“Parking. More space for line queuing and operations,” Perlatti said. “It’s good for voters, it’s good for candidates, it’s good for employees.”

There are more than 700 dedicated spaces for parking at the building on Superior, Public Works Director Michael Devers told council at its meeting on April 10.

The current BOE building at East 30th and Euclid only has 48 spots in its lot and the rest are leased by the county. And there’s no guarantee those spots will be available during future elections.

The Board of Elections would occupy the first and part of the second floors of the new building on Superior Avenue and some of the county’s health and human services operations would take the rest of the second and all of the third floor, according to plans discussed during the council meeting.

A nonprofit tenant, Step Forward, leases all of the fourth floor. The county’s lease is with Industrial Commercial Properties, which purchased the building in 2022 from the newspaper’s publisher for $12.4 million.

In addition to the added parking, elections officials would see an increase in their office space from about 173,000 square feet to about 223,000 square feet. For some county Health and Human Services operations, the move would be part of a downsizing, including the planned closure of the Jane Edna Hunter building in 2027.

Council members were concerned that the board of elections would rush a move into the new building before the November election and the rush could cause technical delays or unexpected issues that could interfere with early voting at the new site.

“The paperwork says you're going to do it after the election,” said Councilmember Sunny Simon during an April meeting, about the possibility of a move before November. “If there's any effort to squeeze it in beforehand, I'm not comfortable with that.”

The board of elections addressed those concerns by voting to hold the election at its current building during its May meeting.

Matthew Richmond is a reporter/producer focused on criminal justice issues at Ideastream Public Media.