Charter voting set for May 2 Saturday election to decide outcome of 2 initiatives

March 19, 1998|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Charter will have a Saturday election, not the traditional Tuesday.

After weeks of jostling dates to meet federal and state guidelines, county officials have chosen May 2 for a vote on the proposed charter, which would change the county's form of government.

"It is a special election for special people on a special day," said Commissioner Richard T. Yates, who admitted he was being facetious.

Yates, who opposes charter and a special election, expects a low turnout. He suggested the Saturday date.

"Most civilized countries vote on Saturday," he said. "People interested in voting won't have to rush to the polls before or after work."

The ballot will have two initiatives and no candidates. The vote will be yes or no on charter and on expanding to five the three member board of commissioners.

If charter is approved, county government will change from a commissioner form to an executive and county council. If both initiatives are passed, charter takes precedence.

The county was forced into a special election by its charter board's actions. The nine-member panel worked nine months and delivered the charter Feb. 13. That set the clock ticking on a 120-day deadline for a referendum, since no general election occurred during the time frame.

When federal and state election laws entered the time line, the commissioners were looking at a May 7 deadline and an unscheduled closing of schools to accommodate the polls. Saturday seemed more practical. They voted unanimously yesterday on the date.

"People don't have the usual workday routine, but Saturdays can sometimes be more booked," said New Windsor Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr., who helped write the charter.

Hampstead Mayor Christopher M. Nevin, charter vice chairman and co-writer, said, "Let's get this going. As long as everyone is notified, a Saturday is fine with me."

It will mean a change in four polling places and letters notifying about 8,259 voters about casting ballots in unfamiliar places.

Reese, Union Bridge and Winfield fire halls and Deer Park United Methodist Church were all booked for the day. But the county Board of Elections has found room for polling in nearby schools.

Reese voters will go to the cafeteria at Sandymount Elementary and Winfield's to South Carroll High's cafeteria. Union Bridge will use the town hall, and the Deer Park church voters will vote in Mechanicsville Elementary's gym.

"All will receive notice by mail," said Patricia Matsko, election board director. "They will get a second mailing notifying them to use their original polling place for the September primary and the November general election."

A list of polling places will appear in local newspapers April 29.

The election will run from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Since it is nonpartisan, the county can save a little of the expected $100,000 cost by cutting the number of judges from 466 to 300.

As far as anyone can remember, Carroll has never held a vote on a Saturday. No one would venture a guess what the turnout from the county's 74,769 registered voters would be.

Pub Date: 3/19/98

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