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COLUMN: Perham School Board's one-precinct decision: A sinister plot, or just a bumbling maneuver?

It's not often that an elected official says "I'm sorry," but that's what happened at the Sept. 1 Perham School Board meeting.

The board and administration has been taking heat for its decision to consolidate all voting precincts into Perham. For the Nov. 3 vote on the school's increased operating revenue levy, all voters will travel to Perham to vote. The other option is to vote by absentee ballot.

This didn't sit well with voters in outlying areas. Several comments have been made at recent meetings, most notably from Dent and Ottertail area voters. Their view: At best, the decision to limit to one precinct was a short-sighted misstep. At worst: It was an intentional move to limit voting access--thereby increasing the chances the vote would be favorable for the increased levy.

"At the time, we looked at it as purely a cost-saving issue," said Perham School Board Chairman Jim Rieber. With one precinct, the school hires fewer election judges and rents fewer voting machines. "But we made the wrong choice...We apologize for that decision."

I, for one, am willing to accept the board's regret over the decision as sincere and honest.

With considerable apprehension, I make this observation: I don't believe our school board is dumb enough to intentionally make a calculated, sinister decision that would backfire as this one did. Secondly, I don't think this board is smart enough to concoct such a devious scheme in the first place.

Does that analysis make any sense to you at all?

It does to me...sort of.

So, let's move on. Get your absentee ballot, if you need to, and cast your vote. We will have details on absentee voting in the paper, and on our website.

Also, it's important to note that there is a "circuit breaker" program available to fixed income property owners, such as senior citizens, which can defray the cost of an increased tax levy. We'll have details on that, too.

Stay tuned.