Wellington OKs Resolution For Residents On Canvassing Board

The Wellington Village Council approved a resolution Tuesday appointing an Election Canvassing Board member and alternate to break possible ties, but postponed the appointment of those members until its next meeting in order to get more candidates.

Last March, an amendment to the village’s charter was approved by the voters requiring that, in those years in which the Election Canvassing Board will be comprised of an even number of members, a community member and an alternate be appointed to avoid a possible tie.

Village Attorney Laurie Cohen said the resolution for consideration calls for the appointments to be made a year in advance.

“This resolution establishes eligibility requirements and lays out duties of the canvassing board member,” Cohen said, adding that at the council’s next meeting they would go through the process of actually appointing the member and alternate.

Election Canvassing Board members currently are any council members not seeking re-election and the village clerk.

Mayor Anne Gerwig said an announcement that the village is seeking candidates would be posted to Wellington’s web site, along with the requirements for eligibility.

Cohen said there had been discussion whether canvassing board members should be precluded from participating in campaigns for the election that is being canvassed.

“You all felt it was too restrictive to require elected council members not to participate because people have elected you to represent them, and appreciate your input on upcoming elections, but you felt that the community canvassing board member and the alternate should be more neutral and should not be permitted to participate in election campaigns,” she said.

Gerwig said that council members are all sworn officers, and asked whether the appointed member would be given any kind of oath, explaining that anyone testifying in a quasi-judicial hearing must take an oath.

“I don’t know that it matters,” Cohen said. “The clerk does not have any kind of an oath. She’s not an elected person. The supervisor of elections, who participates as a canvassing board member in many elections, is not taking an oath for that purpose, so I don’t really think that it matters. The purpose of it is to have neutrality and have another person who could potentially break a tie for those elections that are stand-alone municipal elections.”

Gerwig said the need may never arise for an appointee.

“At the end of the qualifying, we know if we have an even number or an odd number on the canvassing board,” she said.

Cohen said that even in the years that the village is not canvassing the ballots because the county canvassing board is canvassing the ballots, they would still need an appointed member to participate in the certification of the county’s results.

“In every municipal election that we have, we would want to go ahead and put someone in place to serve,” she said. “Wellington has its own canvassing board either to canvass the election when it’s a stand-alone election, or in every case to certify the results. So, based on the language of the charter, if there is an even number of canvassing board members without the addition of the community board member and alternate, then I would say that you want to appoint them. Since we never will really know until the qualifying period, I would think that in each election it would be appropriate to select someone a year in advance.”

Councilman Michael Napoleone made a motion to approve the resolution, which carried 5-0.