Source: Sherman Publications

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Brandon election irks voters

by Susan Bromley

November 09, 2011

With only two candidates for two open seats, the Brandon School Board election was, as Groveland Township Clerk Pam Mazich puts it, "a no-brainer."

The election of Kevin McClellan and Chris Yuchasz as school board trustees was assured, and very likely the reason for what may be the lowest voter turnout Mazich and Brandon Township Clerk Jeannie McCreery have ever seen.

In Groveland Township's precincts 1 and 3, in which there are 2,655 registered voters for the Brandon School District, only 164 ballots were cast, or roughly 6 percent of all voters. McClellan received 135 votes, while Yuchasz received 139 votes. About 80 percent of the votes, Mazich said, came via absentee ballot, with very few people showing up to the polls.

In Brandon Township, 588 ballots total were cast, with McClellan garnering 416 votes and Yuchasz receiving 382. McCreery said 405 of the votes were by absentee ballot. She noted that183 people came to the polls, and several of them were irate and mistreated election workers.

"What we had (Tuesday) was appalling," McCreery said. "We had at least one person look at the ballot and throw it in our election chairperson's face, saying they weren't going to vote because there was only two candidates for two positions... We are working really hard to do what the law says we have to do. Even if only two people file, they still have to be elected, they can't be appointed. I don't think anyone wants to give up the right to vote that veterans have fought and died for."

McCreery expects to bill the school district about $15,000 for the cost of the election. Mazich said she expects the cost in Groveland for holding the election to be about $2,000.

Mazich said about 90 percent of voters at the polls made comments regarding how this election was an unnecessary cost to taxpayers.

"Is it necessary to conduct an election when you have two candidates for two seats?" she asked. "I think there need to be changes to filing deadlines."

Mazich and McCreery both agree that recent state legislation requiring school elections be held in November of even-numbered years, joining other federal, state and local contests on the ballot, should be helpful and reduce costs to taxpayers.