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Ballot deadline extended for budget voting

Filed in Archive, District, District News by on June 1, 2020

In an executive order issued June 7, Governor Andrew Cuomo has extended the deadline for absentee ballots to be received to June 16.

This year’s Budget Vote and Board of Education Election are being held by absentee ballot only. There is no in-person voting.

Residents of the Bethlehem Central School District will vote on a proposed district budget for the 2020-21 school year, will elect three members of the Board of Education, and will vote on bus purchase proposition.

Learn more about what you will be voting on here.

    How do I vote by absentee ballot?

    If you have already received an absentee ballot, follow these step-by-step instructions on how to cast your ballot: https://www.bethlehemschools.org/step-by-step-voting-instructions/

    On June 3, the U.S. Postal Service confirmed the absentee ballots are in the mail. All voters who are on the district’s poll list have been mailed an absentee ballot.

    If you have not received a ballot, but would like to vote, you must contact BC Voter Assistance by 3 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9 so it can be mailed out by 5 p.m. As per the governor’s orders, no new ballots will be available after 5 p.m. on June 9 despite the extended mail deadline. Voter assistance can be reached. by email voterinfo@bethlehemschools.org or by phone at 518-694-3949.

    In your email or phone message please include:

    • Full name
    • Address
    • City, State, Zip
    • Contact phone and/or email address

    To cast a vote, you must meet these qualifications:

    • U.S. citizen
    • at least 18 years of age
    • a resident of the district for at least 30 days

    How should I return my ballot?

    Currently, there are two ways to return your absentee ballot.

    1. All absentee ballots will include a prepaid return envelope so residents can mail their ballots. Completed ballots must be received by the district by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 16, 2020. 
    2. There is also a secure drop box that will be available at the high school for those wishing to drop off their ballot. The drop box is available 24 hours a day outside the main entrance to the high school only through 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9. The governor’s voting extension only applies to ballots that are mailed.

    You must certify your eligibility to cast your ballot. This requires that you sign the envelope that contains your ballot (this will be placed in the pre-paid return envelope). There is a designated area for signature on this envelope. The envelope must be signed for the vote to be counted.

    Can I drop off my ballot in person?

    Yes. A securely locked box will be set up outside the high school for those who wish to drop off their ballots. Completed ballots must be received by the district by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9, 2020. This is the last chance to deliver your ballot in person. All other ballots must mailed and be received by Tuesday, June 16, 2020.

    More information

    What if I was expecting an absentee ballot but do not receive it?

    If you have not received a ballot, but would like to vote, you must contact BC Voter Assistance by 3 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9 so it can be mailed out by 5 p.m. As per the governor’s orders, no new ballots will be available after 5 p.m. on June 9 despite the extended mail deadline. Voter assistance can be reached. by email voterinfo@bethlehemschools.org or by phone at 518-694-3949.

    How will I know what I am voting on or who I am voting for?

    Information on the proposed 2020-21 Budget Vote and Board of Education Election can be found here: https://www.bethlehemschools.org/proposed-2020-21-budget-maintains-programs-in-a-time-of-uncertainty/

    Why doesn’t the district use existing county voter registration rolls for its qualified voter list?

    Voters in most school districts, including the Bethlehem Central School District, do not need to be registered voters in order to vote on the school budget or school board elections. The county Board of Elections does not break down its voter lists along school district boundaries. If the district used the county election rolls, it would risk missing voters who are qualified to cast their vote in a school district election but who are not registered voters with the county. Also, by using a county-generated list, the district would likely send many absentee ballots, which must include a self-addressed stamped return envelope, to people who do not reside in the district. Since the school maintains its own poll lists, the most efficient way to reach voters is to enable eligible residents to be added to the list.

    If I have to sign the return envelope with my ballot, how will my vote be confidential?

    The absentee ballot will arrive with two envelopes. You must certify your eligibility to cast your ballot. This requires that you sign the envelope that contains your folded, completed ballot (this will be placed inside the pre-paid return envelope). There is a designated area for signature on the ballot envelope. The envelope must be signed for the vote to be counted.

    When votes are tabulated, New York State Education Law provides that an envelope containing a returned absentee ballot is not to be opened until a determination is made that there is no reason for rejecting the ballot, which could happen if, for example, the voter fails to provide the signature required by law to appear on the envelope containing the ballot.  Once such a determination is made and the envelope opened, the ballot is withdrawn without unfolding and deposited into the proper ballot box. As a result, at the time of counting, the ballots will not be linked to the envelope in which they were returned.

    The entire ballot tabulation process for the June 16 vote will be videotaped and recorded.

    Will the public be able to see the process of the ballots being opened?

    Yes. Poll workers will be opening ballots immediately following the 5 p.m. deadline on June 16 for ballots to be received through U.S. Mail. This process will be livestreamed for the public from 5 p.m. until all of the ballots are counted and the results are announced. The livestream link and access information will be provided on the district website homepage and the main budget page on Tuesday morning, June 16, and will remain there during the course of the day until results are announced and the livestream is over. Please note that in order to protect confidentiality and to give voters a view of the entire process, the camera angle will be wide to show the entire area where ballots are being scanned.