By Duncan Campbell

Members of the Granville Board of Education voiced concerns Monday night over a proposal to send absentee ballots only to voters from previous budget elections. The board met via telephone conference through Google Meet.

Board Member Phil Berke called the option ridiculous. He explained that it would disenfranchise people who either haven’t voted in a while or couldn’t vote in previous elections for a variety of reasons. He also mentioned that the option goes against what is clearly stated on the board’s website.

School board member Phil Berke

“The budget notice on our website specifically says that the notice will be sent to all the voters in the district,” he said.

Board member Shirley Kunen shared Berke’s concerns, especially considering the potential for reductions in aid from the state and an unknown amount for the budget.

“There’s a lot of touchiness right now with the reduction and the risks going out that I don’t want to give anybody the sense that we’re trying to sneak something through,” Kunen said.

The concerns pertained to proposed scenarios that would allow community members to vote on the school budget and the school board election by absentee ballots. The absentee voting would help maintain social distancing.

Two scenarios were given in terms of sending ballots out to the community: the first would take the voters roll from the county, which contains about 4,000 voters, and mail ballots to those people; the second option would take the voting rolls from the last four budget votes, which contain 700 people, and send ballots out to those people only.

The vote and election will take place on June 9.

School superintendent Tom McGurl explained that choosing the second option would save money in mailing and printing costs, but runs the risk of being seen as voter suppression.

“The general opinion from counsel was that because of the changes in the election process and the voting process, either option certainly could be victim to a lawsuit,” McGurl said regarding a consensus from county superintendents and attorneys. “However, there is more risk for Option Two by limiting the number of people that you mail to.”

Under both scenarios, people can request a ballot from the district office. Ballots must be received by the close of the polls, and nothing can be counted beforehand.

Board member Susan Perry said she felt mailing ballots altogether is a waste of money. She said there are other options to hold the vote while maintaining social distancing, pointing to the fact that people can get tested for COVID-19 in a drive-thru.

Granville superintendent Tom McGurl

“Somebody there’s garbed and does your test, but we can’t have someone with a mask and gloves on to hand out a ballot and then pick it up on the other end? It just seems dumb to me,” she said.

Board member Molly Celani also agreed that everyone should receive a ballot but questioned the mode of delivery. She suggested to include ballots with the food and schoolwork that the school district gives students in order to limit mailing.

“If we send it to all of the families that we’re serving anyway, and then they return it, then we only would have to send them to the people who don’t have any kids in the schools,” Celani said.



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