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City of Hagerstown holds primary elections today

March 08, 2005|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Election officials spent Monday reviewing security procedures and preparing for today's City of Hagerstown primary election, which will determine which candidates will compete in the May 17 general election.

Republicans going to the polls Tuesday will choose one of four mayoral candidates to advance to the general election. The candidates as they will appear on the ballot are: Charlie Baker - whose given name is Roger Dean Weber; Bob Bruchey; Tony Campello; and Dick Trump.

Democratic candidates for City Council as they will appear on the ballot are: Kristin B. Aleshire (incumbent), "Nick" Carter, Kelly S. Cromer, N. Linn Hendershot (incumbent), Ira P. Kauffman Jr., Lewis C. Metzner (incumbent), Penny May Nigh (incumbent), Alesia Parson, Henry Renner Jr. and Donald L. Souders Jr.

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Among the council candidates on the ballot today, the top-five vote earners will be on the ballot in the May election.

The Democratic mayoral ticket and the Republican City Council ticket are already set because there is no primary opposition.

The mayor, according to the city charter, is the chief elected executive officer of the city.

The mayor generally does not vote, but can cast a tie-breaking vote and can veto ordinances passed by the council.

The mayor also conducts city meetings and is often the official face of Hagerstown city government.

Although the actual drafting of the budget is left to the city administrator, the City Council has authority over its passage and can add, delete and change items in the budget, including setting city property taxes.

The council is also the city's rule-setting body, having authority over a wide range of items from public parking costs and land planning to code enforcement and park uses.

Thirty-eight touch-screen voting machines were delivered Monday to the city's 13 precincts. The machines were not to be opened until this morning, said Kaye Robucci, Washington County Board of Elections deputy director.

Robucci said today is the first time the touch-screen voting system has been used in citywide elections, although it was used in last year's presidential and local elections.

Robucci said several security measures have been taken to ensure voting accuracy.

Election system checks were done Feb. 22 to clear the machines of any prior voting information, and to verify that the machines were recording votes accurately, Robucci said.

The machines are sealed and contain three separate numbers that voting judges must verify before they can be used, Robucci said.

Among the checks taking place today, vote counts will be verified with three separate counting systems, Robucci said.

When voters sign in at the polls their names will be checked off on the registration lists, Robucci said.

Election judges also must record which machine a voter uses by placing a signed card with the voter's name in a folder that stays with the machine. The machine itself electronically registers a vote count, Robucci said.

At the end of the day, the judges will compare the total electronic counts to both the hand-counted cards with each box as well as the number of names checked off the voter registration lists, Robucci said

Then the machines' memory cards are taken to the election office, where the data is uploaded to the election board's secure computer server, Robucci said. While the votes will be counted as the day goes on, a second accuracy check will take place tomorrow.

Absentee ballots will not be counted until Thursday. As of mid-Monday, 115 total absentee ballots had been sent to voters, although the number of absentee ballots cast could change, Robucci said.

To find out which poll to go to, residents may call the Washington County Board of Elections. Election officials recommend that anyone who has moved since the last election should call.

The elections board can be reached by phone at 240-313-2050, which is equipped for the hearing impaired.




List of polling places


Following is a list of polling places for today's election in Hagerstown:

· Potomac Towers, 11 W. Baltimore St.

· ABC Building, 319 W. Howard St.

· Emma K. Doub Elementary School, 1221 S. Potomac St.

· Girls Inc., 626 Washington Ave.

· Washington County Free Library, rear entrance, 100 S. Potomac St.

· Bester Elementary School, rear/side entrance, 30 E. Memorial Blvd.

· Potomac Heights Elementary School, 301 E. Magnolia Ave.

· North Hagerstown High School, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave.

· Northern Middle School, 701 Northern Ave.

· Christ Lutheran Church, 216 N. Cleveland Ave.

· Bethel Gardens Community Room, 356 Henry Ave.

· Winter Street Elementary School, 59 Winter St.

· Western Heights Middle School, 1300 Marshall St.

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