Election Board Addresses OC Voter Discrepancies

OCEAN CITY – A councilman’s questions regarding the county’s role in keeping up with the number of municipal registered voters were answered this week.

Earlier this month, Councilman Brent Ashley brought up a fluctuation in the number of registered voters.

Ashley reported that the figures in the Certified Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for registered voters differ for most years from the information that City Clerk Kelly Allmond supplied to the Mayor and City Council during the discourse involving moving the election date. For example, in 2006, the CAFR lists 6,783 registered voters but the packet information listed 6,112 voters, a difference of 671 voters.

“Again in CAFR, I notice that in the last several election cycles, the number of registered voters in election years is much higher than non-election years. For example, in election year 2010 there were 6,549 registered voters. But, in off year 2011 there were only 5,166 registered voters. A difference of 1,383 registered voters. If these figures are correct, how were they determined?,” Ashley asked at that time. “Also, what happened to the 1,383 and how was it determined that they were no longer registered voters? If our year-round population has remained relatively stable as presented in the CAFR, how is this possible?”

Ashley had come to find out that the number of voters listed in CAFR included active and non-active voters and the true number of actual registered voters remains unknown. He also asked for the council to request an audit of the voter roll, which hasn’t been done since 2004.

Allmond on Monday submitted Worcester County Board of Elections Director Patricia Jackson’s responses to a list of questions.

According to Jackson, the number of registered voters fluctuates, especially in off-election years, for many different reasons, such as voters move to another part of the county, or state, or a different state, as well as deceased voters and some voters request to be removed from registry.

“Another reason could be a voter registry report showing stats for both inactive and active voters and a registry containing only active voters,” Jackson said. “Another reason could be that after each General Election we take the returned mail (from specimen ballots) and put those voters in inactive status, giving them a chance to either respond with a correct address or notifying them that after  two general elections, if no response received, the voter will be removed from our registry.”

Jackson concluded that the county routinely will verify voter data. The local boards of election conduct monthly audits which are sent to and reviewed by the State Board of Elections, which also conducts random audits throughout the year. This audit is performed in order to meet legislative recommendations.

Once Ashley looked over the responses, he was satisfied with the City Clerk’s number of registered voters.

“What initially triggered my interest was the difference in the CAFR figures and your [City Clerk] figures so I am assuming that your figures would be the correct figures and the CAFR are for whatever reason a little bit off,” he said.

Allmond responded that it was a matter of recording. Her figure was higher because it includes inactive voters who are still eligible to vote therefore they are all registered voters. CAFR reported active voters only.