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Former School Board Member Alleges Voter Fraud in Tuckahoe

Susan Riccardi says it may have affected the outcome of the most recent School Board election.

Voter fraud has marred recent elections and budget votes in , according to former Tuckahoe School Board member Susan Riccardi.

Riccardi, who served on the School Board from 2007 to 2010, alleges that three people who cast ballots in Tuckahoe on May 15 also voted in a neighboring district the same day, and eight or nine more people who voted in Tuckahoe do not reside in the district.

She did not have the names on hand Tuesday night, but said she will be providing them to Patch soon.

Though it is only about a dozen voters in question, Riccardi said it is enough to change the results of an election or budget vote. "There were years when those few votes mattered more than anything."

During the 2012 election, then-School Board member Sharon Grindle lost by just eight votes to Harald Steudte. And in 2011, the school budget passed by eight votes.

Riccardi said she believes fraud cost Grindle her seat on the board.

What focused her attention on voting issues was when she was asked to fill in for a pollworker who couldn't make it to the May election, Riccardi said. That's when she said she observed questionable voting.

Riccardi explained that after that election she filed Freedom of Information Law requests for the voter rolls for Southampton, Tuckahoe and Hampton Bays school districts, as well as the lists of who actually voted in May.

She said that she and a friend, who she only identified as Jill, reviewed the lists and found irregularities, such as voters using P.O. boxes for their home addresses and the same names appearing on more than one voter roll.

Because the in May — by 47 votes — there was a second vote on June 19, and Riccardi was a pollworker again. The second time around, Riccardi believes, no one voted who shouldn't have. "We were pretty tight about it," she said.

Riccardi noted that one does not have to be registered to participate in a school vote — residents may present ID on the spot and cast a ballot. But having the Southampton and Hampton Bays voter rolls on hand in June allowed pollworkers to stop anyone from voting in Tuckahoe who was already registered nearby, she said.

Tuckahoe Superintendent Chris Dyer jumped into action when he was informed of her findings after the May election, Riccardi said. "Mr. Dyer is a no nonsense superintendent. He saw immediately that there was a problem."

During the public commenting portion of Monday's Tuckahoe School Board meeting, Riccardi asked Dyer if he received a reply yet from the authorities.

Dyer said he wrote to the state commissioner of education on Aug. 14 but has not yet received a reply. He has also contacted the Suffolk Board of Elections and police.

“We take as seriously as you do any voting irregularities," Dyer told Riccardi at Monday's meeting.

When a district voter asked if he can confirm there was fraud, Dyer said, “I am going to say we have a voting irregularity. Municipal authorities will decide if it is a fraud."

Steve Haslett September 15, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Let me try this again, try to read it and then respond rather than respond as if I am fighting with you. You want to make another attempt?: "The problem with your premise is that you cannot prove that 4%. Your tone and approach is aggressive and annoying to boot. Nobody in Tuckahoe would fight a merger. Problem is that it takes work and effort at a state level so you can be assured it will never happen. Besides a money savings for Tuckahoe residents you would have to find positives for Southampton. You've never heard of a marriage where one of the spouses refused to say ''I do'' have you?"
Ross MacKae September 15, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Wow! Can't everyone just get along???? There is so much personal anger in the commentaries. It amazes me that a few of the commentators are making personal attacks and name calling on other commentators. What a shame. I thought the purpose of these comments was to keep the discussion on the content of the article above ... I pray for those of you filled with so much personal anger that you feel compelled to attack others who are merely expressing their opinions. I personally disagree with some of what is said above, I agree with some, and I am enlightened by others. So I thank you. to be continued ...
Ross MacKae September 15, 2012 at 04:57 PM
My input is first a few questions. I am ignorant as to the actual procedures used in the local school board election. I reside in East Hampton. Is your school vote conducted by the Suffolk County Board of Elections or is it locally administered? If it is run by the Board of Elections, how could the vote be certified with voters who's identities had not been validated. The Board of Elections is far from perfect, but they tend to err on the side of caution. I just got through spending 16.5 hours at the Democratic Primary this week. I am an ED Chairperson and have worked many years at the polls. I find it very hard to believe that a Board of Elections run vote could have that many people evade the system. Even if someone was registered in one ED and then moved. She might not tell the poll workers that she had moved and still voted in her last ED, but she would be on a provisional ballot in the other ED. When the provisional ballots were validated at the BOE, one of the first things they're going to check is to see if she had signed in and voted on the machine in her registered ED. If the elections are not conducted by the BOE, maybe that might be a solution to the school district's problem. I hope my questions and opinions are received positively, as they are not given with any negative intent.
Billy J September 17, 2012 at 10:51 AM
You lost us when you said that you spent 16.5 hours at the Democratic Primary. We are looking for input from intelligent people. Thank you anyway.
Ross MacKae September 17, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Billy J; I shouldn't jump ... but I will. 1. If you are an American Citizen, then you know it is not only your right to vote but your responsibility. 2. If you have ever voted before in the state of New York you would have known that the people who work at the polls work there for all parties and are at minimum bi-partisan in composition. 3. Only those Americans who vote really have the right to verbally complain. (The reasoning is that if you waive your right and mandate to vote you equally waive your right to complain.) 4. I never said I was a Democrat. 5. You said "us" in your response. Other than yourself, for whom are you speaking? and 6. You are obviously one of the haters I referenced above who insist on a public conversation becoming a personal attack.

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