NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Votes cast by New Rochelle School Board Member David Lacher on May 19, 2015 have been disqualified by the Clerk and Secretary of the Board of Education. Clerk Lisdalia Saraiva, responding to an appeal filed on behalf of the Vincent Malfetano Campaign for School Board, concluded that David Lacher and another woman were allowed to enter the polling place at Albert Leonard Middle School several minutes after polls had closed and then allowed to vote.
The challenge alleged that Adina Burian and David Lacher were improperly allowed to vote after 9:00 p.m. on May 19, 2015 at the Albert Leonard Middle School ("ALMS") and that their votes should be disqualified.
“I will disqualify the two votes, and will amend the official canvass of votes which was certified at the Board of Education meeting on June 2, 2015 to reflect that two votes at the Albert Leonard Middle School were disqualified,” said Saravia in a response to the challenge.
The challenge was filed verbally by Dr. Maria D. Cox, on May 19, 2015 after the close of the Annual School Election/Budget Vote and Annual Public Library Trustee/Budget Vote (the "School District Election"), and in writing on May 21, 2015 regarding two voters in the May 19, 2015 "School District Election". The two voters were New Rochelle Board of Education Member David Lacher (who resides at 46 Sara Lane, New Rochelle, New York 10804) and Adina Burian (who resides at 180 Overlook Road, New Rochelle, New York 10804). Although the response to the appeal was signed by Liz Saraiva, the investigation was conducted by Sara M. Richmond, an attorney working for the District who is a neighbor of Adina Burian (Richmond resides at 49 Overlook Circle) and who served with 5 years on the New Rochelle Board of Education with David Lacher.
Lacher’s story as to how he was able to vote after the polls closed did not add up.
A school district employee responsible for locking the doors to the ALMS polling place stated that he locked the doors at 9:00 p.m. on May 19th, the night of the Annual School Election/Budget Vote and Annual Public Library Trustee/Budget Vote. A review of video tape from surveillance cameras undertaken as part of the investigation shows that Lacher was allowed to enter the polling place at 9:03 p.m.
In Richmond’s reply, she states:
Ms. Burian and Mr. Lacher both stated that they looked at their mobile phones upon arrival at ALMS to vote and Ms. Burian's cell phone read the time as 8:58 p.m. and Mr. Lacher's read 8:59 p.m. They allege that when they arrived before 9:00 p.m. the door that they attempted to enter into in order to vote was already locked.
Charles Shaw, the Election Chairperson, similarly stated that he checked his mobile phone when Ms. Burian and Mr. Lacher arrived, and that they arrived at 8:59 p.m. Naomi Dogani, John Macken, Jr. and June Brusco also stated they believed it was before 9:00 p.m. when Ms. Burian and Mr. Lacher appeared at the door at ALMS asking to be let in to vote, having either looked at their phones or having asked others for the time. Laura Jeffries stated that she thought they arrived at 9:00 p.m. Anthony Palma stated that he locked the door at 9:00 p.m. based on the time on his cellphone. No one disputed that after Mr. Lacher and Ms. Burian presented themselves at the entrance door, it was unlocked and they were permitted to vote.
Richmond, having already determined that the actual time was actually 9:03 p.m, and that some time had passed before Lacher knocked at the door, fails to address a rather obvious question: why would the election inspectors allow a school district employee to lock the doors to the polling place on his own initiative and to do several minutes before they believed the election was over.
Further, Richmond fails to address the complaint which states that between the time the doors were locked and Lacher allowed into the polling place, the election inspectors were already counting votes.
The complaint states that one of the election inspectors announced that it was 9 o'clock and asked the cleaner to lock the door. After the door was locked other election inspectors attempted to lock the voting machine. As to three of the election inspectors struggled to lock the machines, the Election Chairperson, Charles Shaw, announced he would proceed to count the absentee ballots. All of these things are violations of protocol.
The video tape reviewed by Richmond, based on her own description, should show election inspectors attempting to lock the voting machine and one of the counting ballots before Lacher is allowed into the polling place.
If any of them believed that Lacher was allowed in before 9:00 p.m. that would mean they were attempting to lock the voting machine and were counting ballots before 9:00 p.m. Why would they do that?
Talk of the Sound has made a Freedom of Information request to obtain the video reviewed by Sara Richmond.
Lacher, informed by Talk of the Sound via email on May 19th that he would be the “featured subject” on WFAS 1230 AM radio at 7:30 a.m. the following morning wrote:
That is absolutely pathetic if it is the best you can do and if that is all you have to talk about as the "featured subject" after a whole district-wide election in which your candidate lost convincingly. And especially at Albert Leonard, where he lost by a margin that is an embarrassment to him (and to all your efforts on his behalf). Did your wife tell you that, while the woman who came in with me insisted on voting, I offered not to vote. But the crew chief - whom I didn't know and still don't know and didn't know me - insisted that the door was locked too early and that both of us should vote. So I voted, upon the direction of the crew chief.
Take it to the commissioner. I suspect it will receive the same welcome there as your challenges last year. And if I had not voted, you would have had something else to write about.
Knock yourself out. This election was not a referendum on me. You tried for months to bring Merchant down and you couldn't.
I have a standing breakfast meeting every Wednesday morning from 7:00 until about 8:30. So I guess you will get a free pass at 7:30.
It is worth noting, the email sent to Lacher never mentioned anything about the specific topic or that it had anything to do with the election and his voting after the polls had been closed.