Old-style voting machines might have confused some voters who cast their ballots for the recent school board election in the North Rockland school district. Board member Robert Masiello, who narrowly won re-election, said many supporters told him that after they cast ballots, they realized they mistakenly had voted for Masiello’s opponent, Dian Cifuni, because of the way the ballot was laid out in the machine. In the North Rockland school district, candidates run for a specific seat. Each seat is specified on the ballot with the current officeholder’s name. For example, on the recent ballot, Masiello’s seat was identified as “Office held by Trustee Robert Masiello” on top of the column. Under the name of the seat, there was a lever, and Cifuni’s name followed. Another lever was below Cifuni’s name, and Masiello’s name followed. Cifuni’s name was listed above Masiello’s because she had picked the first in the ballot-placement drawing.
To vote for whichever candidate, voters had to flip the lever above the name of the candidate. But Masiello said because his name also appeared on top of the column specifying the seat, voters might have flipped the first lever to vote for him. He added that he had almost voted for Cifuni accidentally.
“The question is, how many others did the same thing because they saw my name listed twice?” Masiello asked.
District Clerk Sarah Livery said that including absentee ballots, Masiello received 1,172 votes, while Cifuni got 1,141.
Another seat held by Trustee Harry LeFevre was also up for re-election, and Ricky Sanchez unsuccessfully challenged him. LeFevre got 1,678 votes and Sanchez received 609.
In the case of LeFevre and Sanchez, people were probably not confused because LeFevre drew the the first position in the drawing, Masiello said.
From challengers’ point of view, however, both Sanchez and Cifuni said they thought incumbents got unfair advantage as their names appeared twice on the ballot.