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Bayport-Blue Point superintendent explains election software

(L-R) Superintendent Dr. Vincent Butera, with school board

(L-R) Superintendent Dr. Vincent Butera, with school board president James March, field questions from community members at a Bayport-Blue Point school board meeting regarding controversial software that allows school districts to track voter turnout. (April 23, 2013) Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The superintendent of the Bayport-Blue Point school district told residents at Tuesday night's board meeting that the district purchased controversial election software as an upgrade to modernize the voting process and not to get more "yes" votes on school budgets.

Vincent Butera, the new superintendent, addressed about 20 attendees and the board of education at a board meeting in Bayport. He said that he conducted an investigation into the district's use of the software, Bold Systems, over the past two days and learned that while the district has paid for the software that has come under scrutiny since 2008, it has never accessed the voter-targeting analytics that critics say can be used for electioneering.

Critics have questioned why the district purchased the software, which allows for voter profiling. State education officials are investigating its use in Bayport and other Long Island districts.

"The upgrade also includes the . . . option which makes available more detailed information on who exactly was voting. Like anything else, this tool can be used inappropriately," Butera said.

Parent Rita Palma said while she appreciates the superintendent's work, she wondered whether a two-day investigation was enough.

Noel Feustel, who first blew the whistle on the practice after filing records requests on the software and its capabilities to BOCES, thanked the superintendent for being upfront, but cautioned against the software's implications for "your vote, which is the most sacred thing that you do in a democracy," Feustel said.

"What's gone on in the past few days here has just sort of undercut the integrity of the voting process," he said. "When a citizen is confronted with an issue like this, it hits the heart."

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