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City Council approves election date change

May 26, 2009

HAGERSTOWN -- The City of Hagerstown will change the dates it holds municipal elections to coincide with presidential elections.

On Tuesday, the City Council voted 5-0 to make the change.

During the city's general election on May 19, a ballot question passed by 2,592 to 496 votes that asked residents whether they wanted to change the dates that Hagerstown holds its municipal elections.

The result of the election, however, was not official because the ballot question was not mandatory, City Attorney William Nairn said earlier this month. As a result, the City Council was required to make the final decision.

The city historically has held its primary and general elections in March and May in the years opposite the gubernatorial and primary elections. With the passing of Tuesday's resolution, the municipal primary will be held in February and the general election will be held in November.

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Councilman Martin E. Brubaker said that although he voted to change the election dates out of respect for the voters, he believed too much time would pass between the February primary and the general election in November.

"I do think it's likely to encounter problems in the future," Brubaker said.

The council began discussing whether to change the dates of elections last year, when members of the Hagerstown and Washington County boards of elections told the council that the city could save $60,000 to $125,000 per election if the dates were moved.

Dorothy Kaetzel, director of the Washington County Board of Elections, said the city has to pay to hold elections in off years, but the state would pay a majority of the cost if the city piggybacked on the gubernatorial or presidential elections.

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