Among the 1,071 voided ballots were a number of prominent residents including elected officials:
Many prominent residents were stunned to learn their ballot was disqualified in the June School Election.
Westchester County Board of Legislators Member Damon Maher (and his wife)
“My wife and I were shocked and angered to learn that our ballots in June’s school board elections were not counted but were found in an open, unsealed cardboard box, that itself an election law violation, still in their mail in signature envelopes with all information correctly filled in and signed in our respective penmanship,” said Westchester County Board of Legislators Member Damon Maher.
“The vote is the most important right and responsibility in our country,” said Maher. “There are people who fought tyrants, civil rights leaders who marched and were beaten, voting rights activists like Michael Schwerner whose mother taught at our high school and gave his life to register voters in Mississippi.”
“To see this handled so cavalierly in our school district is extremely, extremely disturbing,” Maher added.
School Board Member Lianne Merchant (her board tenure ended 2 weeks after the election)
Asked for her concerns both as a school board member responsible for the operation of the school election and as the only board member whose ballot was voided, along with her entire family, Lianne Merchant skirted both questions.
“Thank goodness you can vote early,” said Merchant. “It is what I plan to do in the future.”
Former School Board President and Westchester County Board of Legislators Member Pearl Quarles
Pearl Quarles was unhappy to be told that her ballot was voided because the envelope was not sealed.
“I know I sealed it,” she said. “I am a very particular woman when it comes to detail. I’m an accountant by trade and you know accountants are finicky to a point.”
Quarles is a member of the Westchester Senior Citizens Hall of Fame. She was the first African American woman to serve as County Legislator in Westchester and first African American woman elected as President of the New Rochelle Board of Education.
“I think it’s despicable that anyone would even stoop so low as to disenfranchise me or any other citizen who took the time to deliver a vote for their choice of candidate,” said Quarles.
“This is not an earth-shattering kind of election however every election is important and our school board leaders are certainly essential to the welfare of generations to come and consequently,” said Quarles. “When I’m voided to make my choice of leadership, having been on the school board for 9 years and serving as its first person of color as President it means that I have done my homework and that I have certainly tried to do what I feel was important for the District.”
“I think when someone steps up to the plate to say “here am I, I want to serve my community” they should be given that opportunity in a fair way of voting by including them as they should be from the ballots that were cast for them.” said Quarles. “It’s unreal to even believe that somebody would stoop so low as to deny a person their right to run for office and to win if their votes were higher than the rest of the candidates no matter where he or she comes from.”
“It should just be a fair and equal way of counting the ballots that came in, in the right way. I can’t even imagine who would even think about doing this.”
“My mind cannot conceive what we can do to stop the madness,” said Quarles when asked what corrective action might be taken. “Maybe have a community board to watch the ballot counting and also have an outside person or agency seal the ballots as they come in.”
New Rochelle City Councilwoman Martha Lopez-Hanratty
New Rochelle City Council Member Martha Lopez-Hanratty was surprised to be told her ballot had been disqualified because she did not sign the oath envelope.
“It was surprising to hear that my ballot had been voided,” said Lopez-Hanratty. “I was almost sure that I had signed it.”
Lopez-Hanratty is the former Director for Hispanic Affairs for Westchester County. She was elected to the New Rochelle City Council last November.
“This is a perfect example of why we need to simplify the Byzantine absentee ballot process so errors can be corrected in order for every vote to be counted”, said Lopez-Hanratty. “I intend to use this opportunity to educate my constituents about how easy it is to have your vote disqualified.”
New Rochelle Municipal Housing Authority Executive Director Angela Davis-Farrish
Former New Rochelle Finance Commissioner Howard Ratner
Former Assistant Superintendent of Schools La Ruth Gray
Ross Brooks, spouse of School Board Candidate Adina Brooks-Barrios (now School Board Member)
Arlene Kamer, former President of New Rochelle Board of Education.
Senior Vice President and New Rochelle Campus Dean of Monroe College David Dimond
JUNE 2020 New Rochelle School Election Series