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Two Public Interest Law Firms Threaten Lawsuit Over Utica School District News Letter Mistake

Utica School Board Voter Mistake
Feng Li, Getty Images

Utica, NY (WIBX) – Utica School District officials have repeated a mistake they made last year on their news letter about a voter’s eligibility to participate in Tuesday’s school budget vote. Sam Young Directors of Advocacy of Legal Services of Central New York said, “At this point we have papers drawn up and I’m prepared to file them in court Monday morning. We are waiting to see what the District does in terms of alerting the public, and undoing the damage that they have done by misinforming voters as to the qualifications.”

He says people should know that if they are residents of the district for at least 30 days, are U.S. Citizens, and are above the age of 18, they may vote in the school district elections, whether or not they can read, write of speak the English language.

Utica District School administrators  say they are taking immediate action to fix the problem they admit should have been corrected last year when the issue first came up. One school official who asked to remain anonymous, says voters will see a notice on Public Access Televion Channel 3, a Public Notice in the local paper and letters will be sent home with students on Monday to ensure the misinformation about who is eligible to vote  is corrected. Attempts to reach Superintendent Jim Willis were unsuccessful. His office personnel said he will be out of town until Tuesday.

Last year around the same time, concerns were raised that the mistake–which stated that a person must speak and write English to be eligible to vote–could disenfranchise people, and the local Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union intervened. An anonymous source tells WIBX that two public interest law firms are currently looking into the matter, they say raises concerns that the mistake has now become a pattern, because it was never corrected.

WIBX was the first to report the mistake last year and the first media outlet to report the findings today.

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