By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer
(Aug 1, 2019) Ocean Pines property owners who have yet to vote have until 5 p.m. on Wednesday to cast ballots in the 2019 Board of Directors election.
Ballots were mailed in July and can be returned either by mail or dropped off at the ballot box inside the Ocean Pines Police Station on 239 Ocean Parkway.
“We encourage people to vote,” Elections Committee Chairman Steve Habeger said. “We have received several trays of envelopes [so far]. Please don’t wait.”
Last year, 7,614 ballots were mailed and 3,119 were counted, a return rate of about 41 percent. Eighty ballots were rejected, with the majority, 66, disqualified because they were received after the voting deadline. That includes approximately 30 that were mailed the day after the deadline, Habeger said.
The difference between the third-place finisher, who was elected, and the fourth-place finisher, who was not, was 23 votes.
“I ask all voters to read and follow the voting instruction on the back page of the mailer that accompanied the ballot,” he said. “Voting requires two actions to be accomplished: First, mark the ballot so that the machine can read it properly. Second, get the ballot in on time, either by mail or in the drop box.”
Voters should also request a replacement ballot early in case their original ballot was misplaced, damaged, or incorrectly marked, especially if they do not live in Ocean Pines year-round.
“People can request a ballot by calling the phone line or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org,” Habeger said. “Locals can pick up replacement ballots at the admin building [fairly] late into the process. The day before the deadline, there’s always somebody from Pennsylvania or Baltimore who will call for a replacement ballot and it’s impossible to get them one in time. If you’re remote, plan ahead.”
Habeger reaffirmed that the 5 p.m. voting deadline next Monday is absolute.
Ballots needs to either be in the box in the admin building or received in the Berlin, not Ocean Pines, post office by 5 p.m. Habeger said.
Voters this year may choose up to seven candidates.
Running this year are Environment Committee Chairman Tom Janasek, Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Larry Perrone, retired lawyer Camilla Rogers, retired railroad yardmaster Paula Gray, Realtor Shawn Kotwica, retired lawyer Edward Solum and electrical contractor Greg Turner.
The top-three vote getters will each earn three-year terms on the board.
Votes will be publicly counted and vote totals announced Friday, Aug. 9. Counting is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. in the East Room of the Ocean Pines Community Center on 235 Ocean Parkway.
Election results will be validated at the annual meeting Saturday, Aug. 10, at 10 a.m. in the Assateague Room of the community center. Property owners who choose to attend should be ready to provide a photo ID, such as a driver’s license. A quorum of 100 homeowners is required before the meeting can proceed.
The Ocean Pines Elections Committee will monitor a telephone hotline, 410-208-3989, to answer questions and field requests for replacement ballots.
For more information, contact Habeger at email@example.com.