Bailey asked to prove claim that voters were ineligible Long Reach board will review ballots

June 17, 1993|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff Writer

Long Reach village officials have told former Columbia Councilwoman Gail Bailey that if she wants to challenge her June 5 election loss to Roy T. Lyons, she'll have to prove her claim that ineligible voters cast ballots.

Dr. Bailey said she believes that individuals "who did not qualify as owners or tenants" were allowed to vote in her 227-to-178 defeat.

The village board met in a closed session Tuesday night. It announced yesterday that it would review and decide the validity of each challenged vote if Dr. Bailey provides a list of individuals she believes were ineligible to vote and why.

"To some extent, it's the election committee's job to check the validity of their own election, but they're throwing it back at me," Dr. Bailey said. "It seems to me they left some open questions."

Dr. Bailey's charges are the latest dispute in the East Columbia community's two-month struggle to select a representative to the 10-member council, which oversees the unincorporated city of 75,000.

On April 24, the six-year incumbent apparently won re-election by 276 votes, but the result was overturned and a new election was ordered after Mr. Lyons protested that two apartment complex owners had cast votes for each of their apartment units.

"I honestly couldn't care less what Dr. Bailey does," Mr. Lyons said. "I'm very busy trying to learn what I'm supposed to be doing [on the council], and I think I've got a pretty good handle on it now."

Just two days before the June 5 vote, a Howard Circuit Court judge denied Dr. Bailey's request for an injunction blocking the repeat election and upholding the April 24 result. The case, which is scheduled to be heard next month, may decide which election is valid and how rules should be applied in eight of Columbia's 10 villages in which voting rights are based on property ownership.

Mr. Lyons fears the court case could prolong the controversy.

"She may have another challenge tomorrow," he said. "I wouldn't put it past her."

In her latest action, Dr. Bailey charged that people were permitted to vote by showing identification that matched their last names with residences on property owner lists. She said an individual who lived in a residence but didn't hold title to the property -- a "teen-ager, young adult or nontitled spouse" -- would have qualified to vote under procedures followed by the Long Reach election committee, which includes all five village board members.

On those grounds, she claimed the June 5 election was "improperly conducted." She requested that the village board nullify the election and delay seating Mr. Lyons as a council member.

Armed with a legal opinion from a private firm, the election committee revised rules for the repeat election to limit apartment building owners to a single vote. The committee concluded that Long Reach's voting rules had been interpreted erroneously for years.

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