PUTNAM COUNTY — What members of the county’s Board of Elections considered a simple cost and time-saving action — the consolidation of a few of the county’s polling centers — has become a sticking point for some county residents, and at least one elected official. During their meeting on Tuesday, Commissioner Mike Lammers addressed the board regarding polling center closures.

“I was wondering if you folks would be interested in having an information meeting,” Mr. Lammers said. “I know you’ve done a great job informing the press, and getting the word out about closing the polling stations, but I’ve been getting a lot of phone calls and feedback from voters in the Blanchard and Sugar Creek areas specifically.”

Mr. Lammers then specifically cited conversations the Board of Commissioners had with Vaughnsville resident Joan Collar. Mrs. Collar, in a grassroots campaign to keep the Vaughnsville Community Center open as a polling station in Sugar Creek Township, has circulated a petition signed by as many as 100 residents in that voting district.

“I realize these decisions have pretty much been made already, but I think it behooves us, if you agree, that we do an informational meeting of some kind, maybe in the courthouse,” Mr. Lammers said. “Just give these people the chance to ask questions directly and give the same answers that I’ve heard you guys give very well in the past to (the Board of Commissioners) personally. I’m just throwing it out there to see if you’d have any interest in that communication.”

“Well, let me address that with a couple things,” BOE Chair Kurt Sahloff responded. “We have not been getting that kind of feedback. If people approach you as an individual or as a commissioner, to me I would say that responsibility is clearly the Board of Elections responsibility. You don’t get any of the blame, we get all of it. You don’t get any of the credit, we get all of it. It’s our responsibility. We haven’t seen a petition, and we’ve talked to Mrs. Collar.”

Mr. Lammers told the board he has done precisely that — encouraged those individuals with concerns to take them directly to the Board of Elections.

“That’s probably the best way to approach it,” Mr. Lammers said. “I will reiterate that to folks.”

Mr. Sahloff informed Mr. Lammers both he and the other board members initially considered public meetings as a vehicle for getting the word out. But after discussing the situation with members of other county boards of election, opted against that path.

“Once we talked to those people, and they thought everything went well without that public hearing, and as we kind of crystallized our decision making, then those went away,” Mr. Sahloff said. “I’m not necessarily opposed to doing that, as we were kind of going to do that in the first place. As far as having that, that would be fine with me.”

Mr. Sahloff’s sentiment was echoed by fellow board member Tony Schroeder.

“I do think, as a matter of policy, we’re more than happy to meet in that kind of a venue, if that situation arises where it would be a useful thing,” he said.

The commissioner and the board then engaged in a swift exchange, with Mr. Lammers expressing surprise the board hadn’t heard any outcry, and the board assuring him they had not; not by phone, nor at board meetings, always held on the second Tuesday of every month at 4:30 p.m. in the Board of Elections offices.

“I’m going to pass that on to them, and if they don’t show up, then…” Mr. Lammers trailed off, finishing his sentence with a shrug.

After Mr. Lammers left, the board moved on to other business, gradually making their way back to the poll center closures and the proposed public meeting. While still willing to hold such, all four board members expressed the belief that until they personally, explicitly, hear concerns from county voters, see engaged voters at their monthly meeting voicing those concerns, the need to hold a large public meeting such as that suggested by Mr. Lammers remains unnecessary.

“I’m thinking that we would hold off trying to schedule any public hearing,” Mr. Sahloff said. “Kind of like Mr. Lammers said, the ball is back in those people’s court. If there’s a need for information out there, then they can come here.”

The next regular meeting of the Putnam County Board of Elections is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 12, at 4:30 p.m. in the Board of Elections offices, 575 Ottawa-Glandorf Road.