Editorial: A district acting in the interest of non-disclosure

05/23/2013 7:59 AM |

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Election officials count the write-in results Tuesday night.

Some things make us gently scratch our heads and other things make us want to claw straight through to our brains.

The Mattituck-Cutchogue School District’s decision not to release the results of a write-in election for a vacant Board of Education seat certainly falls into the latter category.

When a woman present Tuesday night as the district released the balloting results requested a tally of the write-in votes, school officials declined to disclose them, saying only that former board member Jeff Smith had won and accepted the post.

When a Suffolk Times reporter followed up with a district administrator, the answer given was that the district does not have to release the results as long as the winner accepts the position. She assured us that Mr. Smith had won by a wide margin.

Now, we’re not so naive as to believe that school districts are beacons of transparency, but we can’t comprehend why a district would believe it’s OK to withhold the results of any election.

When we followed up again Wednesday morning, Superintendent James McKenna said that to receive the vote totals, we’d have to fill out a Freedom of Information request — a step typically reserved for obtaining information school districts don’t want people who read newspapers to know about.

We don’t doubt Mr. Smith won the election, and we understand that the process of tallying write-in votes can be difficult, but the public has a right to know all the details.

So we ask the Mattituck district: Why on earth would you not want to reveal to taxpayers, who pay your salaries, the full results of an election?