Board of Education accepts results of June 9 school board election, reversing June 18 decision

Tonight, June 22, The Minisink Valley Board of Education accepted the results of the June 9 school board election, reversing its June 18 decision, in a 7-0 vote, with one abstention.

On June 18, the Board of Education accepted the 3,060-2,305 vote on the 2020-2021 school budget, a difference of 755 votes.

However, during that meeting, a majority of the board voted not to accept the results of the school board election based upon concerns of a potential discrepancy in the number of votes and the narrow margin of the election results.

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

Gov. Cuomo’s executive order required that the budget vote/board election be conducted solely by utilizing absentee ballots, which had never been done before.  The district received more than 5,300 absentee ballots that had to be counted.

“District Clerk Deborah Roda and her team of election inspectors did a phenomenal job under difficult and never before seen circumstances,” said Board of Education President Joseph Flaherty. “She and her team are to be commended for their diligence and professionalism. Ms. Roda and her team were committed to accuracy and they completed their work with integrity and competence.”

Mr. Flaherty thanked the team for working to complete the count of the numerous ballots on the night of June 16  and reporting the results very late that night.

During tonight’s board meeting, Mr. Flaherty also said that after a review of the procedures followed by Ms. Roda and the election inspectors, the board believes they followed the provisions of the Education Law regarding the counting of absentee ballots and the governor’s executive orders, and that the issue was caused in the scanning process.

Also during the meeting, Mr. Flaherty said after a re-scan of the oath envelopes was performed by Ms. Roda and her team, instead of a 63 ballot difference between the number of voters on the poll list and folded ballots in the ballot box, there was a difference of two ballots.

The 63 ballots removed from the ballot box, as required by law, remain folded, were placed in a sealed envelope and remain secured, he stressed.

Tonight’s resolution accepts the results of the election of school board members.  Only the Commissioner of Education can order a recount of the ballots.

Mr. Flaherty added tonight’s board action does not preclude the ability of a qualified voter to appeal the results to the Commissioner of Education within 30 days of June 16.