(June 28, 2012) The Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Central School District acknowledges that issues occurred in conducting the 2012-13 budget vote and school board election, which have raised concerns in the community about voting procedure and the integrity of the vote results. Voting is a valued right of democracy. The integrity of our vote and the validity of our election results are of absolute importance, to both our community and our school district.
Two complaints have been filed the against RCS with the office of the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Education regarding voting procedures in the 2012-13 school year budget vote and school board election. Those complaints, officially designated as section 310 appeals, are currently pending with the commissioner's office. Following review of the appeals, the commissioner will determine if the complaints warrant a formal inquiry, or if they will be dismissed without investigation.
In the 2012-13 budget vote, RCS followed the same voting procedures it has for years, voting procedures which are appropriate under education law and have been successful for the district in the past. Following those same procedures worked efficiently for the first 11 hours of the vote on May 20, 2012. However, the unprecedented voter turnout in the last hours of the vote overwhelmed what the district believed to be a well-functioning system.
In response to concerns of community members and district leadership, RCS had the voter registry books reviewed by an impartial third party company who counted the number of voter signatures for comparison against the total number of votes. Through this process, it was determined that there was a discrepancy between the number of signatures in the registry books and the number of votes cast: There were 48 more votes cast than there were signatures in the registry book.
Some have assumed that this discrepancy is the result of individuals voting more than once. While this is not impossible, the district believes it is more likely that in the crowded gymnasium, some voters went immediately to the voting lines without first signing in at the registry tables. Whatever the scenario, this issue is not being taken lightly by RCS.
Both the discrepancy and the problems that arose in conducting the vote are unacceptable to the district. The district is notifying the Commissioner of Education, and voting procedures have been reevaluated and amended to ensure that future budget votes run smoothly.
While the discrepancy revealed in the vote and signature counts indicates issues with voting procedures, it does not undermine the results of the vote. Voters approved the 2012-13 school year budget by 195 votes, a margin significantly greater than the 48 vote discrepancy. If every one of those 48 questionable votes was subtracted from the total number of yes votes, the result would still be a passing budget, as voiced by our community. As such, the district remains confident in moving forward with the results of the vote.