Commissioner of Education rejects appeal, finds no recount of votes necessary

In June of 2022, the Board of Education filed an appeal to the Commissioner of Education regarding a discrepancy in the results of the school board election on May 17, 2022. This week, the Commissioner of Education has rejected the appeal, determining that no recount is necessary. 

During the May 17 meeting, the Board certified the reported voting results and those results were entered into the record and released to the public. Shortly after the close of the meeting, a clerical error in the formula on the spreadsheet used to calculate the number of votes from each polling site was discovered. The error was rectified, and the updated results brought the number of votes for candidates of two of the seats within the margin of 20 uncounted affidavit ballots. The district informally reviewed the uncounted ballots, which indicated that there were not enough cast by eligible voters to impact the initially-reported results. The corrected vote counts were reported on the district’s website and released to the press.

According to New York State education law, because the initially-reported results had been certified, the district could not formally canvass the affidavit ballots or certify the corrected results without an order from the Commissioner. In an effort to have the official numbers recorded, and to assure the community of a transparent process, the Board filed an appeal with the Commissioner seeking either an order to canvass the ballots and correct the counts, or an order stating a recount was not necessary.

After reviewing the appeal, the Commissioner dismissed it, determining that no recount was necessary, recognizing that the discrepancy was a result of a “simple computation error” that did not impact the results of the election. In her decision, the Commissioner did not find fault with any of the district’s procedures in the matter. 

According to New York state law, school districts have 24 hours from the close of polls to certify the results. In the MCSD, the Board has typically held a meeting on the night of the election, certifying the votes nearly immediately after they are reported from the polling stations.

Moving forward, the Board will hold its meeting on the day following the budget vote in an effort to reduce the risk of a clerical error. The 2023-24 budget vote will be held on Tuesday, May 16, and the Board of Education will accept and certify the election results at a meeting held on the following day, May 17.