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Amid confusion, school bond fails  (KS)

GAYLE WEBER   The Hays Daily News    06 August 2008

VICTORIA A $3.5 million bond issue for Victoria USD 432 is five votes short of passing today following a controversial primary election Tuesday.

Voters said no to the issue by a 277-273 tally; however, some voters reported receiving the wrong ballot just after polls opened Tuesday.

At least four people were given the wrong ballot on the electronic voting machine Tuesday morning, and Victoria Superintendent Linda Kenne said she heard reports of discrepancies up until 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"I believe in going with what the voters say," Victoria Superintendent Linda Kenne said. "If the voters voted this down, I'll accept that. But we had no organized opposition. We had no vocal opposition."

Ellis County Clerk Alberta Klaus said she believed the problem was taken care of by 7:30 a.m. Tuesday when the supervising judge announced to those voting the problems others had encountered. Klaus said voters were advised to check their ballots to make sure they had voted for the right things before confirming them.

"In fact, there were some people given the ballot without the school district question; however, those people were given a paper ballot to vote," Klaus said. "I do not believe there is any issue."

Klaus said it would be possible for someone to have voted on the bond issue that shouldn't have.

"It's probably possible, but they either would have not voted or said they got the wrong ballot. That's hard to say," Klaus said.

However, neither Klaus nor Kenne blames the voters for any mistakes that could have occurred.

"I think in the excitement in just getting started in the morning (the correct ballot) was written down wrong or it was punched in wrong," Klaus said.

Poll workers were instructed to enter the correct ballot on the electronic voting machines for voters; however, Kenne said that was not being done here Tuesday, which led to the confusion.

Kenne said she hasn't had time to explore her options as far as a recount or asking for a new election.

"We'll do all of the things we can to make sure this was a fair and balanced election," Kenne said. "Beyond that, we will not take any extraordinary means."

Klaus said the school district could ask for a recount. The deadline for the district to do that will be 5 p.m. Tuesday.

"They could call for a recount, but with the electronic machine, you're going to get the same results," Klaus said. "I don't know what they would gain by asking for a (recount)."

A new election also could be called, but Kenne didn't know how long the district would have to wait to ask for another one.

The results of the bond issue vote will not be final until all votes are canvassed during Monday's Ellis County Commission meeting when provisional ballots will be considered.

Klaus said nine provisional ballots were cast at the Victoria polling site, but she could not confirm if all were living within USD 432.

"They would need five votes, and I don't know if there would be that many provisionals," Klaus said.

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