UPDATE, JUNE 7: This story has been updated to reflect comments from Charles Kalinowski.
East Islip Union Free School District has found two tabulation errors in the board of education-certified candidate results, ultimately resulting in an incorrect announcement of one of the school board candidates, district officials stated.
Nine days after the school board certified the results of the vote, district officials publicly announced that they had incorrectly tabulated the total number of votes for candidates Michael Dorgan and Joann Walsh.
The district, on May 18, reported that candidate Charles Kalinowski would take the seat vacated by incumbent board president Jessica Carney. The district had reported that Kalinowski received 745 votes, while candidates Dorgan and Laurie Gapinski-Gould got 675 votes and 429 votes, respectively.
According to a statement from East Islip school superintendent John Dolan, Dorgan had received an additional 240 votes that were not considered during the initial vote count. Dorgan got 915 total votes, which surpasses Kalinowski’s number of votes and makes Dorgan the purported winner of the seat currently held by Carney.
Walsh, who ran unopposed, received 1,871 votes instead of the reported 1,405 votes, also due to a “tabulation error,” Dolan said. Walsh was running after being appointed to the seat last November when Christopher Nicolia resigned.
At a special board meeting streamed online on May 27, the board of education unanimously approved a resolution to file a proceeding with the commissioner of education that would “annul the incorrect canvass of votes” that were previously certified by the school board and directs the canvass of votes be corrected.
Pursuant to Section 2037 of Education Law, the school board does not have the authority to make changes to vote totals that have been certified. The petition will “identify where the mistakes occurred and will provide documentation,” said attorney Neil Block, of Hauppauge-based Ingerman Smith, L.L.P. New board members can only be appointed once the results are approved by the commissioner.
The resolution states that the errors in the certified results were found during “a subsequent routine review of the voter tally sheets prepared by the election inspectors.” At the meeting, Block said the tabulation error was a “mathematical error” in both instances.
When the results were being counted, Block said, one voting machine displayed zero votes for Walsh. However, 466 votes for her were cast on that machine alone.
Regarding Dorgan’s votes, Block said: “The votes that were tabulated and reported to the board of education that were subsequently certified revealed 675 votes. However, the vote total, while it was accurate for each machine when it was totaled with the absentee votes, actually totaled 915 votes. So, based upon that tabulation error, Mr. Dorgan would be the candidate elected for that particular seat.”
Board president Jessica Carney at the meeting apologized to the candidates.
“It is extremely unfortunate that this occurred,” Carney said. “We just have to be thankful that all the votes will be reassessed, and unfortunately, it does affect the outcome.”
Dolan said there are no other discrepancies between the canvass of votes that were tabulated by the election inspectors.
As it stands, candidate Stephen Ruland will take the open seat held by trustee Philip Montuori Sr., who did not seek reelection. Ruland received 851 votes, Dominick Barbato received 728 votes, Timothy Sassone received 446 votes and Joshua Zusmer received 226 votes.
However, Barbato, who offered condolences to Kalinowski, said he has requested a recount of the results and added that he “hopes to examine further the discrepancies in the voting that took place.”
Dolan said the district only became aware of the miscount due to a final review procedure, which had not occurred prior to this year.
“I take full responsibility for the error, and hope that you'll be patient and it’ll never happen again, but we caught something that in previous years would not have been caught,” Dolan said, “so I already feel that we are putting 21st-century mechanisms into place.”
Dolan said the district will implement new procedures that will be reviewed by Ingerman Smith, L.L.P. to ensure that this does not occur again.
“You have my word and my solemn promise that this type of error will not happen again. We will make sure we have backups on top of backups,” Dolan said.
Charles Kalinowski submitted the following letter to the Islip Bulletin regarding the election:
To my dear family, friends and community,
I would like to begin by thanking all of those who have supported my family and I during this difficult time. I have listened to many people who have expressed their concerns regarding the East Islip UFSD Board of Education election results. As some of you may already know, I was certified as the victor on May 18. I viewed this as our victory, not just my victory. I ran against Michael Dorgan and Laurie Gapinski-Gould. The seat was vacated by incumbent board president Jessica Carney.
On May 27, the East Islip UFSD Board of Education notified me and other candidates that there were two tabulation errors when counting the votes. Once the errors were corrected, Joanne Walsh received 1,871 votes and Dorgan received 915 votes. Therefore, Dorgan was declared the purported winner. All of this information can be found on the East Islip UFSD website and in the Islip Bulletin.
As mentioned above, I have listened to many people who have voiced their concerns—some advising me what I “should” do, while others advising me what I “should not” do. I both respect and appreciate all of the advice. It did not fall on deaf ears. At the end of the day, my family and I have to live with the decisions I make as Charles Kalinowski (husband, father and son). That being said, I have decided to make a final decision to address this situation “my way.”
Based upon the information that was served to me by district lawyers, it appears that there were two tabulation errors; although errors that should not have occurred, errors nonetheless. I personally could not identify any intentional wrongdoing. The information I was provided has been sent to the commissioner of education for a final determination.
For over three months, I told everyone that their vote counts. It is my belief that our community can learn from this unfortunate mistake and turn a negative into a positive. I ran on the “community” platform. Our children, our community and our future.
In closing, I want to thank everyone who has supported my family and me. We are fortunate to live and raise our children in a beautiful community. I look around and see what we do have, not what we don’t. Hopefully, this unfortunate error will help bring more of us together, rather than divide.
God bless you all. And God bless the United States of America!
With all sincerity,