If you’re a voter in the Johnstown school district and you voted in the June 9 school budget election, then you pretty much wasted your time.
Because district officials didn’t like the outcome, they’re going to do the budget vote over again.
The school board has decided that in the wake of the narrow budget defeat, they’d put the exact same $38.97 million spending plan up for another vote later this month — obviously hoping for a different outcome the second time around by enticing more pro-budget voters to show up this time.
That’s not how voting is supposed to work.
When the voters speak, it’s supposed to matter.
If it happens some people who might have supported the budget didn’t bother to vote last month, then the district should just have to live with that. Rarely is voter turnout ever 100% anyway.
One could argue that the unique new all-mail-in voting might have discouraged some people from voting.
But then how do you explain that voter turnout from mail-in voting statewide was actually up in many places?
It’s also hard to argue that voting was more difficult or confusing than normal.
The instructions for mail-in balloting were about as clear and simple as the instructions for microwaving a bag of popcorn.
What’s worse than school officials deciding to negate the results of the first vote by holding a second vote on the same budget is that they clearly didn’t get the message voters were sending.
By rejecting the budget, voters clearly wanted something different than what they were presented.
(And never mind that the budget actually passed with a majority of the vote, but not the required 60% supermajority. The supermajority is required to ensure districts can’t easily push through large tax hikes.)
Why not go back into the budget and find other areas to cut in order to get the tax hike down a little more? Or maybe voters were dissatisfied with the cuts and wanted some staff and programs restored, even if the tax rate had to go up a little.
The bottom line is this: How can citizens trust their government when their votes can be set aside whenever the losers don’t like the outcome?
The Johnstown school board should either live with the original budget results, or give the people a better budget to vote on.