Ballot review underway in Bethlehem Board of Education election

Ballots cast in Tuesday’s Board of Education election in the Bethlehem Central School District are currently under review after an unusually high number of write-in votes were recorded, district officials said Wednesday. The review is being conducted voluntarily by the district and in consultation with the school district’s attorney and the Albany County Board of Elections. All eight candidates have been notified of the manual count and all have been invited to observe the process.

The eight candidates appeared on the ballot on Tuesday, May 16 when voters were asked to choose three to fill open seats on the Board of Education.

“The ballot designed by the county to meet standards of the new digital voting machines created some voter confusion,” said the district’s Chief Business and Financial Officer Judith Kehoe, who oversees the election process. “We were aware that voters were confused by the ballot based on an unusually high number of voided ballots, however, we would have no knowledge of how votes were cast until we began gathering election results after the polls closed at 9 p.m.”

Kehoe said when the voting machines returned their results, they showed 888 “write-in” votes, an unusually high number for any district vote.

“It’s not uncommon to have a few write-ins every year,” said Kehoe. “However, when the machines turned up more than 800 blank write-in votes, we immediately knew we had an issue that required close examination.

“We contacted our attorneys right away and we were at the County Board of Elections when they opened this morning,” said Kehoe. “Both gave us the go ahead to begin a manual count of the write-ins. Before we began, we contacted all candidates to provide them with the opportunity to observe the process.”

Kehoe said the district expects to have final election results tonight, along with additional information about voting and the verification process. The information will be shared at the already-scheduled Board of Education meeting which takes place at Eagle Elementary School at 7 p.m. tonight. Eagle Elementary School is located at 27 Van Dyke Road, Delmar, NY 12054.