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Decision No. 15,611

Appeal of the BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT OF THE CITY OF ELMIRA from actions taken at an annual district meeting.

Decision No. 15,611

(July 17, 2007)

John J. Ryan, Jr., Esq., attorney for petitioner

AHEARN, Acting Commissioner.--Petitioner, the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Elmira, seeks an order pursuant to Education Law §2037 annulling the canvass of votes and certification of election results following the district’s May 15, 2007 school board election, and correcting the canvass.  The appeal must be sustained.

Prior to the May 15, 2007 district meeting, petitioner board consisted of nine members, serving three-year terms.  In November 2006, one board member, whose term was to expire June 30, 2008, resigned.  Petitioner did not appoint a replacement, and did not conduct a special election to fill the vacancy.

At the May 15 district meeting, voters were asked to elect three board members to full three-year terms, which would expire on June 30, 2010, and to elect a fourth member to fill the vacant seat, which term would expire June 30, 2008.

Seven candidates were on the ballot at the May election.  The three candidates receiving the largest number of votes were to receive full three-year terms, while the candidate with the fourth largest number of votes would be elected to fill the vacant seat.

Following the close of the polls, the results of the voting from 12 voting machines at two different locations were transmitted orally to the district clerk, who recorded them on blank, unsigned tabulation sheets.  That tabulation showed the results, as to the top five candidates, as follows:

  Candidate Name          Votes            Term Ending

Rodney Strange

1,016

June 30, 2010

Lynn Grottenthaler

  880

June 30, 2010

Ethel Stroman

  735

June 30, 2010

Robert Woods

  722

June 30, 2008

Timothy Blandford

  677

not elected

The board then convened, received the tabulation from the district clerk, and certified the results of the election.

On May 24, 2007, the district received a request for the “tally sheets” evidencing the vote counts for each candidate at each election station.  Pursuant to that request, the district clerk reviewed the official “Report of Inspectors” for each polling station, signed by the election inspectors.  At that point, the district clerk realized that a mathematical error had been made in tabulating the vote count immediately after the close of the polls, and found that the votes for Timothy Blandford had been understated by 70, giving him a total of 747 votes, rather than 677 as originally stated.  An affidavit by the district clerk is annexed to the petition.

As a result of this retabulation, the corrected results as to the top five candidates were as follows:

  Candidate Name          Votes            Term Ending

Rodney Strange

1,016

June 30, 2010

Lynn Grottenthaler

  880

June 30, 2010

Timothy Blandford

  747

June 30, 2010

Ethel Stroman

  735

June 30, 2008

Robert Woods

  722

not elected

By resolution duly adopted at a special meeting on May 31, 2007, petitioner authorized the commencement of this appeal to correct the original certification of the election.  Petitioner asks that I determine that Mr. Blandford received the third largest number of votes; that Ms. Stroman received the fourth largest number of votes; and that Mr. Woods received the fifth largest number of votes, and therefore was not elected to the board.   Petitioner asks that I annul its original action certifying the winners on May 15, 2007, and enter an order correcting the certification, declaring candidates Strange, Grottenthaler, and Blandford elected to full three-year terms, and candidate Stroman elected to fill the vacant seat with the term ending June 30, 2008.

Petitioner named Stroman, Woods and Blandford as respondents in this appeal and served each of them with a notice of petition and petition.  None of them has served an answer to the petition, as required by §275.13(a) of the Commissioner’s regulations.  When an answer is not served and filed in accordance with the Commissioner’s regulations, the statements contained in the petition are deemed to be true, and a decision is to be rendered on those statements (see 8 NYCRR §275.11[a]).  Based upon the record before me establishing that there was an error in the tabulation of results, and there being no opposition, I find that the appeal must be sustained.   

THE APPEAL IS SUSTAINED.

IT IS ORDERED, that the actions of petitioner board of education in tabulating and declaring the result of the ballot with respect to election of members of the board on May 15, 2007, be, and hereby are, annulled; and

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, that the canvass of votes for candidates for the office of member of the board of education be corrected in conformity with this decision; and

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, that Rodney Strange, Lynn Grottenthaler, and Timothy Blandford be declared winners of full three-year terms to end June 30, 2010, and that Ethel Stroman be declared the winner of a term to end June 30, 2008.

END OF FILE