BERLIN – As part of an ongoing effort to clean up the Berlin town code and modernize its provisions, some minor changes to Berlin’s election laws were introduced this week at Monday night’s Mayor and Council meeting.
The Berlin Board of Election Supervisors recommended making the changes after reviewing the election laws already on the town books.
“The primary purpose for all these ordinances and resolutions is to modernize the language. In some cases, Berlin’s established code uses terms that are completely outdated or incomplete,” said Mary Bohlen, deputy administrative director.
Other aspects of town election law do not follow the Maryland state laws, especially for voter registration.
The election law changes introduced on Monday evening would bring voter registration requirements in line with state rules, clarify time requirements to file for candidacy and to withdraw from a race, and change the term “councilman” to “council member”.
Berlin Mayor Gee Williams suggested adding words to the section on election advertising, with the addition of “other electronic devices” to the list of advertising media.
“Technology is changing so fast,” Williams said.
Ten years ago, the town might have added cell phones to the list, but not have known that personal digital assistants, essentially mini-computers, would become so common, he said.
Even the term “computer” could become obsolete in the near future, Williams said.
The town council, which could have voted on the resolutions Monday night, asked for more time to review the proposed code changes.
“It is confusing,” said Councilwoman Paula Lynch.
She suggested some minor changes for better readability, adding, “I suspect with more time we can find more stuff.”
The council will vote on the election law resolutions at its second March meeting, on March 22.
The state of Maryland must then sign on off on the changes.
The next step for Berlin’s Board of Election Supervisors is to create a guidebook for election workers to keep in front of them during elections. A guidebook will summarize the town election code and prevent the need to search the code for answers during an election.
“It won’t be quite so difficult,” said Bohlen.