County Might Take Over Ocean City Election

OCEAN CITY – City officials are getting rid of Ocean City’s outdated voting booths so voters can have one-stop voting on Election Day.

According to City Clerk Kelly Allmond, during the 2013 budget hearings the council requested a review of the municipal election process.

The Ocean City Municipal and Presidential Elections were held concurrently at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center on Nov. 6, 2012.  The two elections were held in separate rooms of the building. There were 3,064 voters for the municipal election and 3,144 voters for the presidential election. The total cost for the election was $9,060.

“At the end of the day, voters expressed one common concern about the municipal election — long lines,” Allmond said. “I attribute the delays to high voter turnout coupled with one disabled voting machine.”

Allmond furthered Ocean City’s voting system has become outdated as the Shoupe machines are now obsolete. The last vendor on the East Coast stopped servicing the machines in 2010, and the Mayor and City Council will be faced with added costs of replacing or renting additional voting equipment. The latest quote on leasing eight electronic poll books is $9,900 plus programming fees.

Allmond estimated $20,000 to conduct another separate municipal election, or a one-time cost of up to $15,000 to program the county system to incorporate the municipal election.

When City Solicitor Guy Ayres first looked into the idea of adding the local municipal election to the county’s program almost a year ago, the Worcester County Board of Elections advised him it could not be done without the State of Maryland’s Board of Elections approval.

For Ocean City’s election to be held by the county as part of the general election, legislation must be passed by the General Assembly.

“I have gone through the state election code and quite frankly I don’t agree with this,” Ayres said. “There is nothing in the state election code that requires them to do anything to add a municipal election date, in fact to the best of my knowledge they do it for Cumberland.”

Ayres suggested for Mayor Rick Meehan to write a letter to Senator Jim Mathias pointing out the issue with the state board and ask the senator to have the attorney general’s office to look at it.

Councilman Joe Mitrecic made a motion to move forward with having Ocean City’s municipal elections handled by the county and have the mayor write a letter to Mathias. The council vote was unanimous.

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