February 15, 2006
Fraud in Columbia County, that's what some parents in the school system fear could happen with the new calendar survey. Right now, parents can vote online, picking when they want the school year to begin. News 12 is on your side with why some feel the results can be skewed.
The school board got complaints about this year's August 3rd start date. They set up a survey giving families three options for a new calendar. The problem is, there may be no way to stop someone from voting more than once.
The later the better for father of three Larry Waxman. He wants school to start close to labor day, pushing exams after the holidays. But he worries his voice might not be heard.
"There's really no way to prevent stuffing the ballot box at different computers," Waxman said.
The rule is one vote per household. Waxman's oldest son goes to lakeside high, where computer savvy students know how to vote more than once.
"While it's important to get the kids input, they are still children and they don't have the long-term view parents have," Waxman said.
As it is now, parents or students can cast the ballot. But the school board's software allows one vote per computer. So if people vote at work or school, they can log on again and cast another vote from their home computer.
The school board knows about the problem. The more computers people have access to, the more they can vote. But Superintendent Tommy Price still thinks the results will be accurate.
"Most people are honest and don't really want to manipulate the system," Price said.
Another concern: paper ballots are available at all the schools. There's no way to stop people from going school to school, voting at each stop.
Larry Waxman thinks a possible solution is to put the calendar options on the general election ballot this November.
"They'll have a better result and more accurate result," Waxman said.
That's not likely to happen. The school board thinks the system will work, and parents like Larry Waxman want their voices to be heard.
The voting ends February 26th. And the results will be presented March 14th.
To vote, you can pick up a paper ballot at the school, or log onto the school board's website at www.ccboe.net and the survey link is on the left hand side.