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OPA election materials could have slight delay

Elections Committee Chairman Steve Habeger addresses a possible delay in election materials during a meeting last week.

By Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(June 28, 2018) Printing and mailing of materials for the August Ocean Pines election have been delayed, although probably not by much.

The original deadline for election materials to be sent to the printer was July 6. Ballots were to be mailed on July 10.

Elections Committee Chairman Steve Habeger on Monday said, “We’re going to print on time,” adding the exact date was up to the association secretary, Director Colette Horn.

“She’s mentioned to me she feels that members need at least 30 days to vote, so she wants to get these out pronto and that’s why the printer is waiting impatiently for our final instructions,” Habeger said.

When news broke last Wednesday that Director Pat Supik had resigned, Habeger said he sent an email “That literally said ‘stop the presses!’”

“I’ve always wanted to do that!” Habeger said with a laugh.

The resignation was at least partially responsible for the ballot delay, because voters may now select up to four candidates. The top-two vote getters will each earn three-year terms in office, while the third and fourth-place finishers will inherit the unexpired portion of terms vacated by Supik and former Director Brett Hill, one year each, respectively.

Also complicating matters is a Hill lawsuit against Ocean Pines and Horn, challenging her ruling that he is not an eligible candidate because of unpaid assessments. Hill filed the lawsuit on June 6.

Horn, in an emailed statement Monday, said ballots would not be delayed for long. Ballots are due on Aug. 8 and scheduled to be counted on Aug. 10. Results will be validated during the annual meeting on Aug. 11.

“It is my opinion that 30 days is a good amount of time to have the info and ballots in hand before the voting closes,” Horn said. “Too much time risks reduced focus on importance/urgency of getting it done and turned in, and too little limits ability to absorb and properly consider the differences and assets among the candidates. Thirty days seems just right to strike a good balance.”

Habeger and the rest of the elections committee on Monday approved the contents of the ballot mailings that will include candidate statements, voting instructions, and notice of the annual meeting.

He said instructional language this year was made clearer and an emphasis was put on how many candidates each lot owner could vote for.

“Hopefully that will be a way to improve the ballot response and we won’t have so many people voting for too many people or voting incorrectly,” Habeger said.

Last year 3,491 ballots were counted and 129 ballots were rejected. Of those, 40 voted for more than the allowed number of candidates, seven were marked improperly, five were blank, four used the wrong return envelope and one included a write-in vote, apparently for Mickey Mouse. Additionally, 72 ballots were received after the Aug. 10 deadline.