By Greg Ellison
(March 19, 2020) Preparing for the expiration of two OPA Board of Directors terms in 2020, the Ocean Pines Election Committee received updates on a new balloting system scanner, while also approving an election services contract last Friday.
Association IT Manager Steve Grabowski said work is just getting underway to review an online tutorial associated with the recently purchased laptop and scanner intended for the upcoming OPA election.
“We need to use a proper paper stock and color,” he said. “The scanner has a problem with anything glossy.”
Among the actions included in the elections committee’s final report from the 2019 contest issued in September was investigating an updated ballot counting machine.
On the positive side, Grabowski said the new election gear would permit enhanced ballot design flexibility, with wider use capabilities such as publishing web surveys.
Grabowski said whatever design options are selected would involve consulting with election materials contractor Berlin-based ACE Printing & Mailing.
“We do have to combine their knowledge with the constraints of the scanning system,” he said.
Previous ballot design discussions have considered the possibility of including a verification barcode and candidate pictures.
Elections Committee Chairman Steve Habeger polled members to select a date to hold an online training tutorial with the hardware equipment vendor.
“I would like the committee members included, but ACE [Printing] is really doing it,” he said.
The process would allow the group an opportunity to view the web-based tutorial while vetting ballot designs.
Grabowski said ballot dimensions should be selected with consideration to envelope sizes.
Habeger agreed the final ballot would need to conform to the return envelope included with election materials mailed to qualifying association members.
The committee scheduled a vendor-assisted online training session for March 31.
The committee also approved a 2020 OPA Ballot Election and Mailing Services agreement with previous contractor ACE Printing & Mailing.
Habeger said in addition to ACE submitting terms comparable to past agreements, they were the sole bidder for election printing and mailing services.
Committee member Mark Heintz asked if there were any apparent reasons for the lack of additional bidders.
“Are we bound by getting a certain number?” he asked.
Habeger said despite sending invitations to bid to at least a half-dozen area vendors, few seemed capable of accommodating both printing and mailing requirements.
“We have a goal of having a competitive process,” he said.
While the traditional three-bid minimum standard was not reached in this instance, continuing the association with ACE Printing proprietor
still seems advantageous, Habeger said.
“They not only do what they need to do but they forward-look,” he said. “They’re ready when you ask them for something, which is invaluable.”
Committee board liaison Steve Tuttle said regardless of the market competition Guylas submitted a bid only slightly above prior fees.
“It would be different if ACE came back $5,000 higher all of a sudden,” he said. “His price has not changed for the last three or four years, hardly.”
Heintz noted the new election services contract also includes providing a scanner operator.