All school votes to be done by absentee ballot

Massena Central School students change classes at the high school’s Freshman Academy. Voting on school budgets will be done by absentee ballot this year, with ballots due to district clerks no later than 5 p.m. June 9, the date of the vote. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — School budget season is now in full swing, with some state-mandated deadlines coming up shortly.

This year’s voting for all district budgets and board of education members will be done by absentee ballot due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has issued an executive order authorizing the changes to the voting format.

Districts will be sending the ballots out by mail to registered voters, and the ballots must be returned no later than 5 p.m. June 9, the date of the vote. No in-person voting will occur.

“Ballots that are received later than 5 o’clock will not be allowed to be counted under the law. It will be important that voters present their ballots in a timely manner,” Massena Central School Superintendent Patrick Brady said.

Stephen J. Todd, superintendent of Jefferson-Lewis BOCES, said the voting changes are being rolled out statewide.

“All districts are working on logistics independently, but they’ll have to send them out soon,” Mr. Todd said. “It’s a logistical challenge mobilizing a mailing of this magnitude; every district in the state is working on this right now.”

Residents who want to run for a district’s board of education must have petitions returned to district clerks no later than Monday. There is no requirement for 25 signatures on this year’s petitions as would normally be the case.

The requirement to send out absentee ballots will mean extra work for school districts. In Massena, for instance, the district would normally be sending out about 150 absentee ballots.

“Rather than 150 absentees, we’re looking at upwards to 11,000. It’s a significant project to do,” Mr. Brady said.

Those ballots will have to be printed, put into envelopes and taken to the post office for mailing to residents.

In addition, districts are also required to send out postcards to residents alerting voters that a ballot will be forthcoming and providing information about a budget hearing, Mr. Brady said.

Times staff writer Rachel Burt contributed to this report.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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