OCEAN PINES – Officials with the Ocean Pines Association (OPA) say they are monitoring delays in the postal service as election materials wait to be processed and mailed to homeowners.
On Wednesday, the Ocean Pines Elections Committee issued a statement to association members detailing potential delays in the arrival of ballots for this year’s board election.
While election materials – 7,777 ballots and 710 letters to ineligible voters – were posted on July 16, the committee noted the backlog of mail waiting to be processed.
“All such bulk mailings are shipped to Baltimore for imaging and sorting, then sent to destination post offices. We’re told there are trailer trucks full of mail waiting to be processed in Baltimore,” the statement reads. “We have never experienced such a delay before. All we can do is wait. We will inform OPA members when the election materials appear in our mailboxes.”
In a board meeting Wednesday evening, President Larry Perrone said he had been in contact with Elections Committee Chair Steve Habeger regarding problems with the postal service.
“The problem is that, as it was in the spring, there are tractor trailer loads of mail sitting there that is taking a long time to process …,” he said. “I consulted with counsel just before the meeting this evening, and we are going to monitor the situation.”
Perrone noted that if the delays continued, the board could consider changes to Resolution M-06, which establishes election procedures.
“We can change the date of the annual meeting,” he said. “The ballots have to be in the Wednesday before the annual meeting.”
Perrone told community members this week the board would continue to monitor the situation before taking any actions.
“We’ll be able to get a better idea within the community here when people start to get their ballots, and then when we get to see the ballots come in,” he said. “We want to stress, at least to the community members here in Ocean Pines, when you get your ballot please fill it out and drop it off at the drop box in the vestibule of the police department to avoid the delays that may happen here.”
Perrone noted he was most concerned with the community’s ability to turn in their ballots before the deadline, Aug. 11.
“This prejudices and helps all four members equally that are running for the board. It affects them all the same way as far as we’re concerned,” he said. “What our concern is, is the impact on the community and the vote of the community. We want to make sure the community has ample time to get their votes in.”
Director Camilla Rogers, board liaison to the Elections Committee, said she would continue to receive updates from Habeger. She told board members she would write a motion to change M-06, should it become necessary.
“We’ll be talking about this a little more,” Perrone replied. “Habeger will absolutely be involved in this.”
During public comments, resident Joe Reynolds pointed out that any changes to the annual meeting date would require a change to the bylaws.
“The bylaws state the annual meeting shall be held on the second Saturday in August each year …, he said. “If the board goes about it properly, the board can change the bylaws without asking the association members. So if you feel the need to change the date, all I ask is that you don’t ignore the bylaws, but use whatever authority you can – and I believe you have, you’ve talked to your lawyer – to change the bylaws.”
“That’s exactly why I called counsel this afternoon,” he said, “to have him look into exactly – if we have this problem – what we need to do and how do we need to do it.”