CENTREVILLE — As Josh Shonts, winner of the Oct. 7 town council election, continues to rectify his voter registration lapse in the county, the town council released an email response by the State Board of Elections.
During the Thursday, Nov. 7 regular session, Town Council Member Tim McCluskey read correspondence to Shonts from Mary C. Wagner, director of the Voter Registration and Petition Division of the State Board of Elections, stating, “We have considered your request and cannot make the (requested) changes.”
According to Wagner, “an individual’s voter registration record includes all transactions that relates to (their) voter registration. While the record can be updated to reflect changes to a voter’s information, the system on the log cannot be changed for any reason.”
She told Shonts he could pursue the matter further with an administrative complaint under Regulation 33-01-05 of the Code of Maryland Regulations.
Shonts initially was unaware his voter registration had been changed and was surprised to learn on the day of the election that his registration was not in Queen Anne’s County. Shonts said he learned, after the fact, that when he forwarded mail from his Centreville residence to Chestertown for personal reasons, the post office initiated a change of voter registration with the state.
The information that Shonts was not registered to vote in the county was received by the town on the evening of Oct. 3, just one business day before the election. The town charter dictates that a council member shall be at least 25 years of age, have lived in the town for at least two years immediately preceding their election and be a registered voter of the town for at least six months preceding the election.
“At the Nov. 7 meeting, a response letter to a question I proposed to the State Election Board was read by Tim McCluskey aloud to those in attendance. It was presented as if it were my appeal being denied by the state to correct my registration being changed without my knowledge,” Shonts said in a statement the next day.
He questioned why town council even had the email when “not one person from the town was copied on the email. The only person that has connection to the town council or office is Jeff Thompson, who is the elections attorney for Queen Anne’s County.”
Shonts also speculated as to how the e-mail was given to the town council. “My assumption is that the information was passed from him to either the attorney or the council directly, namely (McCluskey). This information was also not provided on the agenda for the meeting. You can bet if I would have been there, I would question how they had it in the first place.”
Shonts added he had been waiting for Wagner’s response for two weeks to determine the next steps in beginning the appeal process, and he planned on filing an official appeal this week.
“Stay tuned for public letters I will be sending out to the people of Centreville, the town council themselves and to several state officials. Making this up as you go along is not acceptable nor is presenting false information to the public! This is not over by a long shot!” Shonts concluded in his statement.
During the town council’s Oct. 17 session, Council President Jim Beauchamp made the motion to accept Shonts to the council with the condition the Board of Elections was able to correct the information and was seconded by Vice President Jeff Morgan. The vote was 2-1, with McCluskey dissenting.