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After brief delay, ballots mailed in Ocean Pines

(July 16, 2015) Ballots in this summer’s Ocean Pines Association election were mailed a week late, following the discovery of a layout error with the candidate questionnaire in the Ocean Pines Association’s quarterly newsletter.
Originally, ballots were to be mailed last Tuesday, but because of the mistake, the association included a corrected version of the candidate Q&A with the ballots, which were mailed this Tuesday.
The mistake involved candidate Thomas Herrick, whose response to one question was printed twice, once after being asked  “What is your history of community involvement within Ocean Pines …” and again after being asked, “What are the advantages & positive aspects of living in Ocean Pines …?”
“I felt like I did a pretty decent job, especially with that first question, and I wanted to introduce myself to the community,” Herrick said last Thursday. “My understanding is that the newsletter was mailed to 8,400 homes and everybody would have the opportunity to see that. I felt that if people looked at that and read that they would say, ‘Hey, this guy doesn’t even answer the question they asked.’ And I felt like that would be a hit on my intelligence.”
When Herrick learned about the error he sent emails to Marketing and Public Relations Director Teresa Travatello, Elections Chair Bill Wentworth and OPA Board President Dave Stevens.
“I explained to them that I felt that this was an error on Ocean Pines and I believe that it will hurt my candidacy, and I would appreciate if they could in some way correct the problem,” Herrick said.
Herrick said Travatello replied first, saying a retraction on the email version of the newsletter would be sent immediately.
“She said that’s about all I can do,” Herrick said. “I emailed her back and said I believe a little bit more could be done” to notify people of the situation and to give them the opportunity to read the actual answer that he provided.
Herrick said several of the directors debated via email whether the community should reprint the entire Q&A, or provide Herrick’s correction with the ballot mailing.
“There has to be a 50-word statement by each one of the candidates in the ballot,” Herrick said. “I asked if they could just put my right answer to question one with my 50-word statement and let the people know they made a mistake in the quarterly newsletter.”
Herrick said Stevens notified him they would do just that.
“Later on that night [Stevens] said Teresa and Bob Thompson made up their minds on what they were going to do, and they were going to print out all the questions from all the candidates and put it in the ballot. At the bottom of my answer to question one, they put in bold type that this was a correction from the newsletter.”
Herrick was not pleased with the decision.
“If people already got the newsletter and they see the same thing, they’re just going to say, ‘Wait a minute – I already read this. I’m not going to bother reading the same thing’ and dismiss it.
“It’s totally different from what they told me,” Herrick said. “At this point I don’t feel it’s satisfactory.”
On Friday, Herrick reported that a compromise had been reached and that the correction notice will be placed before the first question.
“If this does occur, I believe a solution to the error was handled to my satisfaction,” he said.
Bill Zawacki, a former board member and current candidate, also had issues with the original printing.
At the end of Zawacki’s 50-word statement, he listed his phone number and email address, and asked voters to “contact [him] to discuss the issues.”
“I had a colon at the end and my phone number and email,” he said. “They left the phone number and email off, and changed the colon to a period.”
Zawacki said his statement was within the 50-word limit, but that his contact information was omitted because the brochure already contained the address, phone number and email of each candidate in an introductory section.
“It’s not that it was so bad for me, but for Tom, of course, it was just a total mess-up,” he said.