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Editorial: Monitors can ensure trust in Hempstead election

Attorney Fred Brewington, right, with poll watcher Dennis

Attorney Fred Brewington, right, with poll watcher Dennis Jones, discusses school board election results in Hempstead Friday, May 23, 2014. Credit: Howard Schnapp

When state Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. recently called for a special election for one seat on the Hempstead school board, his ruling included an order that the district cooperate with any monitor he might send to observe the election. Now we know what King was talking about: Personnel from the state attorney general's Civil Rights Bureau will be on hand for oversight.

It's a rare move and a good one, given the many allegations of voter fraud and voter intimidation laid out in the petition that led to King's ruling in the May 20 election. He forced longtime board member Betty Cross to relinquish the seat she retained narrowly with help from disputed absentee ballots and ordered the new election for that seat.

The presence of Civil Rights Bureau staffers will help ensure that the election is conducted properly and fairly, and Hempstead school board president Lamont Johnson was wise to signal that he welcomes their help.

Candidates have until Sept. 29 to register for the election, which will be held Oct. 28. Then the winner can join the rest of the board in the momentous task of turning around this troubled district.