Attorney says Albany HS renovation vote legitimate

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – An attorney claims the vote to renovate Albany High School did not disenfranchise voters.

A referendum to renovate Albany High School passed by 189 votes. Election day was marred by long lines, delays and a shortage of ballots.

More than two dozen people filed an appeal with the state education department seeking to throw out the results of the controversial vote. Some called it a “botched” election that disenfranchised voters.

But Thursday night, an attorney hired by the Albany City School District said no voters were turned away. Attorney Jeff Honeywell presented the Albany school board with his office’s findings on the high school renovations vote.

“There is no evidence that any voter was denied the right to vote or informed that they could not vote,” Honeywell said.

On February 9, Albany voters flocked to polling places to approve or deny a $180 million project to rebuild the high school. Chaos ensued.

“This is not legitimate,” voter Sue Swartz said on election day. “We came here to vote in a legal process.”

The main problem was not enough ballots, which led to long lines while officials attempted to print more.

“Which obviously created frustration with many voters, however, any residents who left those lines had the opportunity to return at a less congested time,” Honeywell said.

While Honeywell acknowledged many issues, including the district ordering just 5,300 ballots when 7,800 people turned out to vote, he maintains the results are legitimate. But not everyone agrees.

“This vote was an unmitigated disaster,” a public commentator said. “I’m deeply disturbed by how we arrived at where we’re at.”

Albany County Legislator Andrew Joyce supported the high school renovations, but he believes a revote is necessary.

“The vote was too important to the future of this city and the district to get it wrong,” he said.

Because the appeal was filed by 26 people, Honeywell advised the board to wait and see what action the state will take.

The board said they’ll be revising their voting policies and procedures, and they will be in place by the May 17 school budget vote. In the meantime, the board will wait to hear what the state education commissioner has to say on the appeal.

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