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Wed., Jul. 23
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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

Potsdam budget passes, machine malfunction leads to brief confusion

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POTSDAM - A malfunction with one of the two lever-style voting machines used by the Potsdam Central School District led to a brief moment of confusion Tuesday evening as district officials were attempting to finalize this year’s results.

The district’s $28,196,659 budget passed easily 555 to 144, as did its bus referendum, 550 to 146. As final numbers were tallied and finalized, election inspectors realized the total numbers of votes cast, according to the machines, did not match vote totals according to the evening’s voter registry.

When the 363 voters on one machine were combined with the 319 voters on the other and added to 26 absentee ballots, district officials announced that 708 total votes were cast.

The only problem was initial vote tallies has two candidates, Wade A. Davis and Christopher C. Cowen, receiving more than 708 votes. According to initial results, which were read aloud ,Mr. Davis earned 771 votes and Mr. Cowen earned 741 votes. Initial results had Ann Carvil receiving 596 votes and Frederick C. Stone Jr. earning 557 and being knocked off of the board.

However, after the problem was detected and it was revealed that one of the machines was already reading more than 200 votes before the polls were even open Tuesday.

“There was an issue with one of the machines, which had some numbers on it before voting began,” Superintendent Patrick H. Brady said. “It was very clear to the election inspections that there was a discrepancy on one of the machines.”

After the error was discovered and vote totals were adjusted, Mr. Davis remained the high vote getter with 488 votes, followed by Mr. Cowen with 481. The adjustments, however, dropped Ms. Carvil to 327 votes, while only dropping Mr. Stone to 381 votes, and putting him back on the board.

Prior to reviewing the initial results, Mr. Brady said inspectors noticed a great discrepancy between the district’s two voting machines.

“Now the numbers between the two machines are consistent,” Mr. Brady said. “We made the corrections and are confident that this vote is accurate.”

The district budget raised spending by 3.2 percent and carries a tax levy of $12,188,521. The 2.9 percent tax levy increase was under the district’s tax cap limit.

Mr. Brady said he is glad to see the support offered by the community.

“I want to thank the Potsdam community for supporting our children,” Mr. Brady said. “I’m very pleased with the support from the community. We couldn’t have asked for a better result.”

It was also noted that this year’s vote could potentially be the final budget vote for the Potsdam Central School District.

“We are in a merger process, but we don’t know what the next year could bring,” he said. “In the end, the community will decide what’s best.”

However, Mr. Brady said given what the district has dealt with over the past several years, he feels like the district has done a good job with the resources they do have.

“We provide a high quality education for the money we spend,” he said. “We’ll see what this year brings, and if we end up looking at a new school, that will mean even more opportunities for our children.”

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