Ocean View Board of Elections starts fixing voter districts

In an effort to clear up confusion regarding Ocean View’s registered voting districts this past election in April, the town’s Board of Supervisors of Elections has been hard at work to clarify the designated boundaries of each district.

The Town of Ocean View is divided into four districts, with one member of council, excluding the mayor, representing each one in three-year terms. Residents, regardless of which district they live in, may vote for any eligible candidate.

In the time leading up to the election on April 14, 2007, though, it was found that the ordinance describing the districts’ bounds did not comply with the map by which the town was determining districts, bringing confusion to the qualification of candidates. Bill Olsen, head of the election board, set out to right this wrong, and recently, made some valuable headway.

“What our committee did,” he said at last Tuesday’s Town Council meeting, “was start at a point in each district and make a complete loop around.”

The revised districts are currently based on the number of voters registered within Ocean View, not the districts’ population themselves.

Before a new ordinance can be revised, Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader insisted that the Board of Elections accomplish several more things: identify all roads within town by their name rather than route numbers, date the newly revised map and proposed ordinance, and retrieve the number of permanent residents and total number of registered voters within the districts.

“Fairway Village was approved for maybe 350 units,” said Olsen, referring to a new community off Central Avenue that is set to be establish within the town. “Last election, we only had 350 voters. That gives you the kind of idea of challenge you could have.”

Renters in Ocean View, who do not qualify as full-time residents, contribute to some of the imbalance between the population numbers and the voter-influenced districts.

“When I was campaigning,” noted Councilman-elect Richard Nippes, “I saw whole communities where only five or six people are registered voters in the town. I have a feeling there are a lot of people who are just not registered.” This failure to register is the other common influence of the districts’ layout.

“To give you another example,” added Councilman Roy Thomas, “there are 700 homes in Bear Trap, and there are 60 registered voters. However, that’s almost all of the full-time residents who live in Bear Trap. It’s a situation between the balance of permanent population and registered voters.”

Residents in Ocean View are required to register to vote within the town. County and state voter registrations are not adequate for town elections.

“The only thing we can go by is the number of registered voters in the town,” said Olsen. “They can come in the Monday after the election, up until 30 days prior to the election.”

Olsen added that efforts to draw up an accurate map and ordinance will continue in the near future.