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Mayor proposes change to town’s election law

The Emmitsburg Town Council discussed some potential changes to the town election laws Monday, based on the recommendations of the mayor.

Mayor James E. Hoover presented his suggested changes to the council Monday evening for discussion purposes only in order to determine what changes the council might support.

A variety of rule changes were proposed, including one that states that in the event of a tie between an incumbent candidate running for re-election and a challenger, the incumbent would automatically win.

The council generally agreed that the automatic win wording should be expunged.

The mayor also suggested that a list of registered voters be obtained 21 days before an election, not 30 as presently stated, and eliminating the requirement that the names of election judges be posted 30 days before an election, since the election judge positions are rarely even filled within that time frame.

The only contentious suggestion posed regarded eliminating write-in candidacy, since even proposed write-in candidates must pre-register to be considered valid candidates.

Councilman Timothy O’Donnell stated his main concern was that any restriction regarding regulating write-in candidates seemed at odds with democratic processes.

Under current regulations, individuals proposing to run as write-in candidates must register that decision with the town seven days before the election or they cannot be considered valid candidates.

In any event, their names will not appear on the ballots because they will have already been printed by that time, but the ballots do include a blank, write-in candidate line.

Other revisions to the town code recommended by the mayor included elimination of references to the position and duties of a town police chief.

Emmitsburg has not has a police forces in years. Police patrols are provided by community deputies provided by a contract between the town and the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.

The mayor noted that if the community ever elected to re-establish its own police force, the code could be amended to put the position back into the regulations.

Based on suggestions for changes recommended by the council, the mayor and town staff will return with the suggested written revisions to the election laws.

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