The Examiner

Ballot Confusion Throws Doubt Into No. Castle Ward System Props

We are part of The Trust Project

North Castle officials have been notified by the Westchester County Board of Elections that the two propositions related to the establishment of the ward system cannot be included on the county’s Nov. 4 ballot.

An Oct. 9 letter from commissioners Reginald LaFayette and Douglas Colety informed the town that it must hold its own election using separate ballots and  polling places because the vote is considered a special election.

Citing election laws that set the ground rules for towns, the commissioners concluded that the propositions constitute a special election because the vote is not being held during the municipality’s biennial elections. The next biennial vote is Nov. 3, 2015.

The propositions ask the public to vote on whether the town should be divided into wards, or districts, so each town board member serves a particular area, and to increase the number of council seats from four to six.

North White Plains resident Anthony Futia, who helped spearhead the drive to get the propositions on the ballot, said town officials erred, believing that the Board of Elections would take care of the matter once the paperwork was submitted. He said he doesn’t want to run the risk that someone would challenge the results based on little-known laws.

“Dealing with politicians for 50 years, if we held the vote on the county machines and someone knows the law, they could say this is an illegal vote,” Futia said.

The sudden turn of events has thrown the vote into a state of confusion. Supervisor Michael Schiliro said officials will converse this week with Town Attorney Roland Baroni to explore their options.

Schiliro said he does not want to disenfranchise voters but is concerned whether the town can properly organize in order to hold the vote on Election Day. He said he doesn’t want to have a repeat of what is occurring in Ramapo.

“The goal here is to protect the integrity of the process,” Schiliro said.

Ramapo held a special election late last month on two similar propositions, but because of problems involving eligibility of voters and absentee ballots a state Supreme Court justice has invalidated the results and ordered a new vote be scheduled.

Complicating the situation is that the Board of Elections has already sent out absentee ballots that includes two propositions. It isn’t known what will happen to those ballots, Futia said. Furthermore, the law points out that the vote must be held in a different location than the voting for the general election if it is held the same day.

Schiliro said the easiest solution would be if Futia agreed to withdraw the petition and have it appear on the ballot during next year’s biennial election.

However, Futia said because the town’s political establishment has been fighting against the propositions he’s suspicious about whether opponents will try to find technicalities to prevent it from appearing on the ballot next year.

“They’re only going to try to find a way to throw it out,” Futia said. “You can see all the supporters are working against it.”

Under the law, the vote also doesn’t have to take place on Nov. 4. It can be held anytime from Nov. 1 to Nov. 16.




We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.