Keep an eye on mailboxes

OSWEGO — Oswego County residents should keep an eagle eye out on their mailboxes in the next few days.

Voting on school budgets and open school board seats is being done this year by mail.

Christopher Todd, district superintendent for Oswego County CiTi (BOCES) said the coronavirus (COVID-19) made it impossible to go the polls in local schools because state officials have prohibited large gatherings.

“We’ve made great progress to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, but we still don’t know when this pandemic will end and we don’t want to undo all the work we’ve already done to flatten the curve,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in an executive order.

“We don’t want to put New Yorkers in a situation where they are possibly putting their health at risk, so we are delaying school board elections and conducting them by mail and delaying all local special district and village elections to help limit any unnecessary exposure to this virus among both voters and poll workers,” he said in the executive order.

The school budget vote is to be held June 9. But what isn’t known yet is if mail-in ballots have to be received at the school district office by June 9 or if the ballots have to be postmarked by June 9.

The state Education Department referred questions on timing to the governor’s office and the governor’s office did not reply in time for this story.

School elections were scheduled for May 19, but had to be postponed due to COVID-19.

Also, the procedure for school board elections changed due to the virus and social distancing. Those who wanted to run did not have to go door-to-door to get petitions signed. Todd said they only had to call or email their school district office to state they wanted to be a candidate.

The ballots people receive in the mail will have postage paid return envelopes so residents do not have to put a stamp on the ballot to mail it in.

Each of the nine school districts in the county will be mailing ballots to eligible voters – a total of about 77,000 in the county. The ballots will be similar to what people normally see when they go to the polls:

• At the top will be a paragraph explaining the amount of the total school district budget for 2020-21 and asking if that amount should be approved. Voters will mark either Yes or No.

• Some district might have additional propositions, such as spending a certain amount of money to buy new school buses. These propositions also will come with a Yes or No voting option.

• Then there will be a list of names of people running for school board seats and the number of seats that are open. Voters will select on their ballot who they want to be on the school board. If there are three seats open, they will pick three people from the list of candidates.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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