Q & A on budget voting by absentee ballot during June 2020

How – and why – is this year’s budget vote changing?

On May 1, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that this year’s budget vote and board of election would take place exclusively by absentee ballot in June, instead of the traditional mid-May date because of concerns about the coronavirus public health crisis. 
Instead of heading to the polls, voters will need to check their mailbox for an absentee ballot, fill out their ballot and return it to the school district by mail or hand delivery/dropbox June 9 at 5 p.m. or by mail only by 5 p.m. on June 16. Ballots must be received (not postmarked) by the district at the central office by those dates to be counted.

How and when will I receive my absentee ballot?

This year, the typical absentee voter qualifications and applications are being waived. The Duanesburg Central School District sent absentee ballots with prepaid return envelopes to all qualified voters on May 29. If you are a qualified voter and do not receive a ballot, contact the district clerk at cjunge@duanesburg.org, (518) 895- 2279 as soon as possible.

Am I a qualified voter?

If you are a U.S. citizen, 18 years old and have been a resident of the district for 30 days or more prior to June 9, you are a qualified voter in the 2020-21 school budget vote and board election. Anyone who meets the definition of a “qualified voter” but has not registered to vote must do so to receive an absentee ballot. A qualified voter may register with the county or school district. For information on how to register, contact the district clerk at cjunge@duanesburg.org, (518) 895- 2279, or the Schenectady County Board of Elections at (518) 377-2469.

I got my absentee ballot. Now what?

Once you receive your ballot, carefully read and follow the directions. Sign and date the envelope where indicated. If your envelope is unsigned, your vote can not be counted. View a short video about absentee ballots at: https://youtu.be/5DUju55pxhQ. (Note this video was produced prior to the Governor’s extension to 5 p.m. June 16 for receiving mail-in only ballots.)

I made a mistake. Can I get a new ballot?

If you tear, deface or wrongly mark your ballot, contact the district clerk at (518) 895-2279 immediately for instructions on how to obtain a new ballot.

When should I send my ballot back to the school district?

Fill out and return your ballot as soon as possible after you receive it. Ballots may be returned by mail by using the enclosed prepaid return envelope. Ballots also may be dropped off in the locked dropbox outside the entrance of the DCS Central Office. Completed ballots must be received at the DCS Central Office by mail or the dropbox by 5 p.m. on June 9, 2020, or by mail only by 5 p.m. on June 16 to be counted.

What happens when the district receives my ballot?

The district will collect and hold onto all the ballots until the June 9 and 16 deadlines. On June 16 after 5 p.m., ballots will be counted. Results will be announced and posted to the school’s website when all of the votes are counted.

Why do I have to sign my name on the envelope?

Just as voters are asked to sign a register when they vote in person, voters using absentee ballots are asked to provide a signature. This signature constitutes an affidavit — you are attesting to your identity as a voter who is qualified to cast a ballot in this election. This information is recorded on the district’s voter rolls — a list of names of all the people who cast ballots. 

Is my vote still confidential?

Yes. While your name will be registered on the district’s voter rolls, your ballot will be separated from the envelope that bears your name, return address, or other personally identifiable information before the envelope holding your ballot is opened. 

Is the absentee voting process different due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

The district has prepared, sent out and counted absentee ballots to qualified voters for many years, and will follow that same procedure this year, only on a larger scale. This year, all voting is being done via absentee ballot, whereas in previous years, most voters cast ballots in person.  

Is the process open to the public?

The annual school budget vote is an official public meeting of the district, and as such, it is open to the public. As with Board of Education meetings, a livestream link will be announced prior to the vote count; please note that personal ballot information, however, will remain off-camera and confidential. 

How can my vote be confidential if the count is open to the public? 

Since ballots are separated from personally identifiable information before they are counted, the public counting process is anonymous. No one viewing the counting of ballots will be able to match a voter’s personally identifiable information with their specific ballot.

When will the results of the budget vote and board election become available to the public?

The Duanesburg Central School District will begin the counting process at 5 p.m. on June 16. The results will be available as soon as all ballots have been accounted for, but no later than 24 hours following the June 16 deadline for ballots to be received by the district.

Whom do I contact if I have any additional questions about my absentee ballot?

Contact the district clerk at cjunge@duanesburg.org or (518) 895- 2279.