A North Salem resident who complained that the bond referendum during the May 18 school budget election was unfair because it was hard to find on the ballot and the voting machine didn’t match the sample ballot has vowed to continue pressing his point.
Robert L. Treadway, a freelance party planner and floral designer, had intended to make a formal complaint to the state education commissioner but said he missed the deadline because of the complexity of the complaint. Instead, he will send a complaint letter and continue making his arguments to the school board, he said.
Treadway said that he heard from several voters that after they voted on the school budget, which passed with a total of 1,263 yes and no votes, they couldn’t find the bond referendum on the ballot. The $1.3 million bond, which passed with 953 people voting, will pay for a new boiler and HVAC system at Pequenakonck Elementary School and for security improvements.
On the sample ballot available at the polling place for most of the day, he said, the bond question was underneath the budget on the left side of the ballot. But on the voting machine it was on the far right. Treadway argued the falloff of 310 votes is too steep to be accounted for by the usual pattern of voting. He also talked to several people, he said, who said they couldn’t find the bond.
“I think the sample ballot had a great deal to do with it,” said Treadway, who campaigned against a much larger bond that failed last fall but didn’t work against the May bond.
Treadway said he thinks the bond might have failed if it weren’t for the confusion.
School Board President Katherine Daniels said the board believes the sample ballot was “fully in compliance with the law.” Still, she said, once a voter complained late in the day, the sample ballot was corrected.
Superintendent Kenneth Freeston said the district sent information on the proposition to school district taxpayers in advance and the propositions and the sample ballot were approved by the board’s lawyer.
In the future, Daniels said, the district plans to make sure the sample ballot matches the voting machine to avoid confusion.
“Obviously we want to make it as easy for people as possible,” she said.