OLIVIA — The BOLD School District must contact and collect the signatures of 75 people who registered to vote at the polls and cast ballots in the Nov. 5 referendum.
None of the 75 same-day registrants had signed a polling place roster as required by state election law.
Renville County Auditor Marc Iverson discovered this and other errors on the part of election judges in the special election and brought them to the attention of School Superintendent Dale Brandsoy on Nov. 7.
The superintendent and school district on Monday took the matter to Renville County District Court in Olivia with a petition seeking to correct the errors. District Judge Laurence Stratton gave the district 30 days to contact the same-day registrants and collect their signatures.
Voters in the district that serves the communities of Bird Island, Lake Lillian and Olivia approved a $635-per-pupil operating levy in the referendum by a 717-to-658 tally.
The outcome is not at risk. If the district is not able to collect the signatures of some of the same-day registrants, the court will strike from the vote total an identical number of ballots. In that case, the judge said the ballots would be stricken in proportion to the election results.
Attorney Zachary Cronen, who represented the school district, told the judge the district is confident it can contact all of the same-day registrants. All provided their names and addresses at the poll in Bird Island on Nov. 5.
The lack of signatures was an across-the-board error, the attorney told the judge. He described the error as a “simple, human mistake that happens.”
In correspondence to the court, the attorney said the district “is not asserting that any election judge or other officials acted in bad faith or had ulterior motives on Election Day. Rather, these were inadvertent procedural errors.”
In addition to the discovery that signatures were missing from the Election Day roster, the county auditor found that a number of the same-day voter registration applications failed to have their addresses verified and initialed by an election judge.
Iverson also found three absentee voter ballots that did not have an accompanying absentee voter application. The school has since tracked down those applications forms, the attorney told the judge.
The court hearing was held as part of an “Errors and Omissions” petition filed by the BOLD School District to correct the errors. The 12 election judges were named as defendants in the petition, and a number of them attended the hearing Monday. The judge asked those present if they had any objections to the petition, and none said they did.
The special election was administered by the school district, and voting was conducted at the single polling location in Bird Island.