Absentee Ballot Q&A – Annual school budget vote and board election

Please read the below Q&A for more information:

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. If residents are dropping their ballot off at one of the ballot boxes, they must have it in by Tuesday, June 9 at 5 p.m. If residents are mailing their ballot in, it must be received by the district by Tuesday, June 16.

How and when will I receive my absentee ballot? 

This year, the typical absentee voter qualifications are being waived. The North Colonie Central School District will send absentee ballots with prepaid return envelopes to individuals who have voted on a school district matter within the last five years. These absentee ballots will automatically be mailed on Monday, June 1, to the address on record with the district. If you do not receive a ballot or if you have moved, please contact District Clerk Jane Dawson by email at DistrictClerk@ncolonie.org or by calling (518) 785-8591, ext. 3126 as soon as possible to request a ballot.

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, and are not prohibited from voting under the provisions of Section 5-106 of the New York Election Law, you are a qualified voter in the 2020-21 school budget vote and board election.

I got my absentee ballot. Now what? 

Once you receive your ballot, carefully read and follow the directions. Complete the required information on the envelope and sign and date the envelope where indicated. If your envelope is unsigned, your vote cannot be counted.

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

If you tear, deface or wrongly mark your ballot, contact the district clerk at DistrictClerk@ncolonie.org or by calling (518) 785-8591, ext. 3126, 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, or you can return it to our ballot box outside of the district office at 91 Fiddlers Lane. If your ballot does not arrive at the district by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9, it will not be counted.

What happens when the district receives my ballot?

The district will collect and hold onto all the ballots until the June 16 deadline. The district will livestream the opening of the ballots at the district office. A link to the livestream will be available on the district website on the day of the vote.

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. The district will also be livestreaming the opening of the ballots at the district office at 91 Fiddlers Lane. A link to the livestream will be available on the district website on the day of the vote.

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 North Colonie Central School District will begin the counting process on June 16. The results will be available as soon as all ballots have been accounted for, but no later than 5 p.m. on June 17 (24 hours following the deadline for ballots to be received by the district).

Whom do I contact if I have any additional questions? 

Please contact the district clerk at DistrictClerk@ncolonie.org or by calling (518) 785-8591, ext. 3126.