Elections chief quits in Harford

August 24, 2006|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,Sun reporter

With less than three weeks until the primary election, Harford County's acting elections director has stepped down because of stress and health issues, the county's elections board president said yesterday.

The resignation comes just months after acting Director Rena Waggoner's predecessor retired, citing personal reasons.

"There's a lot going on, and most anybody in that position is under an awful lot of stress," said Edward D. Yoder, president of the county elections board. "Because of these extra things being hung on to the program, it's gotten a little more intense than I've ever seen it before."

Directors across Maryland say they are overwhelmed this year by the demands of preparing for early voting and new technology, in addition to other tasks. Officials in Montgomery and Prince George's counties said that they missed recommended deadlines for the distribution of absentee ballots, and Calvert County missed internal training deadlines.

Yoder said working weekends and late nights is not uncommon for the Harford elections board's full-time staff, which has had to meet with a record number of candidates vying for local positions this year and walk them through the process. A group of Aberdeen residents added to the workload last month when it asked the county elections board to review a 3,000-signature petition that seeks to overturn an annexation agreement in the city of Aberdeen.

Organizers of the petition effort were distrustful of the city and asked that the county take on the painstaking task of verifying each signature. A special election would be held in Aberdeen next month.

Yoder said Waggoner, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, will step down at the end of the week, which is also when the county and the rest of the state will learn whether early voting is upheld by the Court of Appeals. Early voting would allow voters an extra five days at the polls, though opponents say it invites fraud.


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