The controversy surrounding a building bond referendum for South Washington County Schools is continuing to grow despite the lawsuit against the referendum settling in January. The bond is for 96 million dollars.

A judge in the election contest decided that the voter’s intent on five disputed ballots cannot be determined. If those ballots had been counted as “no” votes, the bond would have been defeated. Several community members banded together to fight the election results, hiring attorney Erick Kaardal, who says the voter intent on the five disputed ballots could clearly be seen, explaining, “Some of the votes were on the name, and as some people tell me IN the name, and the statute says they shall be counted”  Kaardal went on to say, “It came down to five ballots and any person on the street would look at those five ballots and say they should be counted as ‘no’ votes. They were counted as ‘non votes’ by the canvaasing board.”

The lawsuit ended when the district demanded 9.3 million dollars from the opposition for any additional bonding and contractual costs that may have occurred during the length of the lawsuit, but the fight may not be over. One of the plaintiffs, Susan Richardson, who is involved with the Minnesota Voter’s Alliance, says an organization like hers may soon take up the case.

Richardson says 570 – an unusually high number of people, registered on the day the vote took place. Richardson says statistically some of the same-day registrants likely should not have been able to vote in the bond referendum, which could determine if the taxpayers of South Washington County should have to flip a 96 million dollar bill. Richardson says the decision on whether or not this fight will continue will be made “very soon.”

*To clarify, Richardson says the bonds have already been paid out, but the same-day registrant case may prevent future controversies from occurring.

Julia Erynn