Board of Education accepts results of June 9 budget vote and rejects board election results pending ballot review

Tonight, June 18, the Minisink Valley Board of Education accepted the results of the June 9 vote on the 2020-21 school budget.  The school budget vote and election of Board members was conducted exclusively by use of absentee ballots in accordance with the Governor’s Executive Order 202.26.

Residents approved the proposed school budget by a vote of 3,060 votes to 2,305 votes.

However, the board rejected the results of the Board of Education election, where four candidates ran for three seats for three-year terms beginning July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2023.  The results are:

Shawn Cahill: 2,970 votes
James Emery, Jr.: 3,082 votes
John Odland: 2,842 votes
Patricia M. Reynolds: 2,847 votes

The board rejected the results, in part, because it was determined there were 63 more ballots in the ballot box than on the list of voters. According to the Education Law 2034, where there are more ballots than voters as indicated on the list of voters, the number of excess ballots must be removed from the ballot box and not counted.

The Board is interested in having an immediate reconciliation of those 63 ballots as well as of envelopes that were not opened as a result of the determination of the election inspectors that the signatures did not match the signatures on the list of registered voters.

Tomorrow, June 19, the district plans to begin an immediate rescanning of voter envelopes to determine if there were any inaccuracies in the scanning process. This would provide a preliminary assessment as to whether there were any scanning issues prior to deciding whether to petition the Commissioner of Education for a recount.  The Commissioner of Education has exclusive jurisdiction over school district elections and budget votes.

“The board wants to make sure every valid vote counts,” said Minisink Valley Board of Education President Joseph Flaherty. “Our goal is to have an accurate accounting of the ballots and to be fully transparent in all our actions, no matter what the outcome is and who is declared the winner. We pledge to you that our sole interest is fairness in this election and determining the reconciliation of those 63 ballots will do that. We appreciate your patience and support as we expeditiously look to resolve this.”