OCEAN PINES – Voting is now underway in the Ocean Pines Association annual election.
Ballots, which are due back by 5 p.m. Aug. 5, were mailed to eligible voters last week. They can be returned to the ballot box in the lobby of the administration building or can be mailed with the self-addressed envelope included with the ballot.
“People need to make sure they’re received by the deadline,” said Steve Habeger, chairman of the elections committee.
According to the association, 6,584 ballots were mailed to eligible voters last week, while 1,871 notices of the annual meeting were sent to ineligible voters. Habeger said Monday that voters should have received their ballots by now and if not should call the elections hotline at 410-208-3989 or email [email protected].
Voters this year are charged with selecting two candidates to fill the seats currently held by Doug Parks and Colette Horn. Candidates for the two positions include Parks, Horn and homeowner Stuart Lakernick. Information on each candidate has been included with the ballot, as has a survey question asking whether people would support electronic voting in the future.
“There are a lot of organizations that use electronic voting,” Habeger said. “We’re just seeing the mood of the members.”
Another new addition to this year’s ballot is a verification number that will be used to ensure no property submits more than one ballot.
“On the bottom of the ballot there’s a code printed which allows the contractor to track ballots as they’re received and make sure we’re only getting one per property,” Habeger said.
The contractor will cut off the verification number before the ballots are delivered to Ocean Pines.
“When they arrive in Ocean Pines they’re totally anonymous,” Habeger said.
In the past, ballots were in a small blank envelope inside an envelope with each property’s address. Habeger said that while there was a new method being used this year he was confident it would be effective.
“People with sharp eyes will notice a change but we’re getting the same result,” he said. “It’s just as secure.”
Habeger said that if voters were mailing their ballots, they should remember that mail was sorted in Easton and so ballots dropped at the post office on deadline day would likely be late and not counted.
Ballot counting will occur Friday, Aug. 7 at the Ocean Pines Community Center. Results will be announced immediately after and then validated Saturday, Aug. 8.