The Keep Our Vote mailer quotes a 2011 resolution by the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) recommending that school boards NOT move their elections from April to November. In 2011, the Ridgewood Board of Education agreed and adopted the resolution.
OVOV, found the NJSBA resolution quoted, but not attributed, in the minutes of a 2011 School Board meeting in Red Bank, NJ. They concluded that the resolution had originated in Red Bank. It did not. In fact, in Ridgewood Board of Education meeting minutes (March 7, 2011, page 652) longtime and current Board of Education member Sheila Brogan identified the document as having come from the NJSBA. "Resolution In Opposition to Moving the Annual School Election to November" (page 675) was unanimously adopted at that meeting. https://www.ridgewood.k12.nj.us/cms/One.aspx?portalId=207600&pageId=4986657
In 2012 the executive director of NJSBA assessed the first-year experience of school districts that had moved their elections to November. He outlined the pros and cons, including a remark suggesting "higher voter participation". This remark cited no direct evidence or study. OVOV quoted this comment from 8 years ago with no context. Last year, a California study suggested that a small increase in overall turnout for the November general election was not directly attributable to increased local election turnout.
Keep Our Vote discussed this topic with a core OVOV member, yet that dialog is ignored in their remarks. We offer turnout percentages on our bar chart using numbers of ballots cast in relation to number of registered voters from each given year. OVOV used a different approach, citing number of ballots only.
In spite of discrepancies in our respective research, all data from Board of Education and Village Council elections, regardless of source, points to the same conclusion: In Ridgewood, turnout for local elections has averaged higher in the spring than in November.
OVOV fabricated additional statistics for years of April Board of Education elections where actual data exists, artificially lowering the turnout numbers. They also included special elections in their analysis of the annual Board of Education elections and biennial Village Council elections. The special election for full-day kindergarten in 2016, for example, was promoted vigorously through the Ridgewood Public Schools platform. If our regular local elections could have had comparable turnout, they would have, but they didn't. Therefore, the special election turnout is irrelevant to this discussion.
OVOV core members have continued to inflate their claims of election costs despite having been corrected by the Village Council numerous times. OVOV continues to focus on the particular year's costs incurred only once, in 2019, when a proofreading error by the BOE secretary caused inaccurate sample ballots to be mailed out. The drafting process had to be repeated, and new sample ballots printed and mailed. OVOV cites more than $15,000 additionally incurred that one time as normal election costs. They also fail to factor in that there are costs associated with holding local elections in November.
The $630,000 in savings this year Keep Our Vote reported as the result of collaboration between the Board of Education and Village Council following this year's school budget vote was explained to a core OVOV member in detail just this past week. Yet on October 13th, OVOV presented a series of complete fabrications in regard to this on its website.
Redundant costs were identified by the Board of Education and Village Council as old, automatically renewed contracts that had become obsolete years ago. These were services that had already been replaced, yet Ridgewood taxpayers were still paying for the old services we no longer needed. The rest was a small portion of our $3 million+ budget surplus. It was also not needed. Yet if those items had remained in the budget, those redundant costs would have remained a permanent part of the tax base, charged to taxpayers every year going forward as well.
Keep Our Vote recognizes that pragmatic financial planning which is driven by our annual school budget vote is the key to our community's ability to sustain the high level of our schools well into the future. OVOV reduces this to "shrink(ing) the school budget".
These issues have been explained personally to leaders of the OVOV group. Their staunch refusal to accept the facts suggests that they have ulterior motives.
A lower local election turnout and voters distracted by partisan national, state, and county elections would be more likely to allow the candidates they have supported in prior years to win. Core members of OVOV conspired to intimidate and "force" two brand new Board of Education members to resign, as evidenced in two emails: one sent to community members and the school superintendent on September 11, 2020, and another sent to the superintendent the next day. Both are subject to public record request and are available at https://opramachine.com/request/date_bound_key_word_search_of_em#incoming-29266.
This push to move our elections is about control, not community.
Most important, it all comes down to our annual school budget vote.
100% can vote in April versus 0% can vote in November. It would be a mistake to allow OVOV to distract us from that bottom line.