by Geoff Fox
Town officials have begun discussions to set up an election board that was already supposed to exist.
The motion was made and discussion started by Councilman Roland Lanehart, Jr.
Mayor Tim Smith said he would cover it at the next meeting on June 7, but has to make contact first with proper people to find out exactly how many people are needed to make up the board.
Town Attorney Ed Kuczynski told officials the town’s charter should list that number.
There had been previous discussions about the board.
Lanehart said with a year before the next election, there is time to get a board set up, but Kuczynski told him they would just have to tighten up what is already on the books.
“You’ve got the same process on the books that most other towns and they somehow manage to get it through to elections,” Kuczynski said.
The issue he said last time was the election board “bailed” on officials at the last minute. Several members resigned before they could be called to serve at the last municipal election.
The board is appointed and is a standing town committee during the off years.
Lanehart said one member was called about 20 times last election for one candidate.
Kuczynski said the charter could provide a framework for the board, avoiding a charter amendment.
An ordinance could also be adopted that would set forth more specific regulations. Kuczynski said the election board could also set up regulations, once it is established, on how the election is run.
Hancock charges candidates a fee when they register to run for office. This has been an issue in other towns, Kuczynski said, but it is an easy fix.
When adopting the ordinance, it could specify about charging the fee, the amount, and what happens if it isn’t paid by the file deadline.
This came up during the last town election when a candidate was alleged to have not paid the $10 filing fee at the time they submitted their application in February 2021. The candidate was allowed to stay on the ballot after town officials unanimously approved the decision.
Kuczynski said town officials should make a list of what went wrong last time and then work with what is on the books.
In most towns, the election board is made up of three people chosen by the mayor, the attorney said.
Town officials didn’t create the board during the meeting, but did vote in favor of continuing to look into putting an election board back together.
According to the Town’s ordinances, Hancock’s Board of Supervisors of Election is tasked with conducting all municipal elections, including the registration of voters, notification of election deadlines to the voters, the provision of polling places and suitable ballot boxes, the opening and closing of polls, absentee voting and vote count, along with the preservation of votes. The section of the town’s ordinances relating to the board can be found at https://www.townofhancock.org/sites/default/files/fileattachments/town_government/page/1559/ordinancespart1.pdf.