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Budget Vote and Board Election is June 9

Filed in Archive, District, District News by on May 20, 2020

In an executive order issued Friday, May 1, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that this year’s school budget vote and Board of Education election will take place on June 9. The statewide vote had been scheduled for May 19 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

There will be no in-person voting on June 9. The vote will be held by absentee ballot only. 

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

The executive order also prompted several changes to the budget development and Board of Education election calendar. Important dates are as follows:

Links to the online meetings will be posted and sent out in a separate email as soon as they are available.

How do I vote by absentee ballot?

Absentee ballots will be mailed to qualified voters in the Bethlehem Central School District on or before June 2, 2020. Only voters who are on the district’s poll list will receive an absentee ballot. To ensure you receive an absentee ballot from the district, please read the following instructions carefully:

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

To receive an absentee ballot by mail, you MUST be on the district poll list before the vote takes place:

If you have voted on the school budget in the past, you may already be on the list.

Check our poll list here*. This list includes names and addresses of voters from the last six years of school district voting. All residents on this list will automatically be included in the absentee ballot mailing that will take place on or before June 2, 2020.

*Voter rolls are public documents that identify who eligible voters are. This list was generated on May 8, 2020. An updated poll list will be posted here through June 2.

What if my name does not appear on this list?

You can add your name to the list of qualified voters in the Bethlehem Central School District if you meet the voter qualifications above. To be added to the list please email at voterinfo@bethlehemschools.org or call 518-694-3949.

In your email or phone message please include:

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

What if my name or address is on the list but is incorrect?

You can request a correction by email at voterinfo@bethlehemschools.org or call 518-694-3949.

In your email or phone message please include:

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

When can I expect to receive my ballot?

An absentee ballot will be mailed to all qualified voters who are on the district’s poll list. The ballot will be mailed between May 27 and June 2, 2020, depending on the print and mail schedules and the timing of requests from voters to be added to the poll list. Please note that due to the requirements of the executive order and a reduced workforce due to COVID-19, the turnaround time for submitting a ballot will, in most cases, be less than one week. It is important that when you receive your ballot, you fill it out and return it as soon as possible.

How should I return my ballot?

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 9, 2020.

There will also be a secure drop box that will be available at the high school for those wishing to drop off their ballot.

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?

Due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, no one will be able to accept ballots in person. However, 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.

More information

What if I was expecting an absentee ballot but do not receive it before the June 9 election?

The district has a dedicated email address and phone number to assist voters. Please email voterinfo@bethlehemschools.org or call 518-694-3949 for all voter assistance.

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.

How will others in the community know to check if they are on the list of qualified voters?

As part of the executive order, the district is required to send a postcard that includes a new vote date and the date of the budget hearing to all residents. The district is also using this postcard to notify and encourage qualified district voters to visit the website, review the existing poll list, and add or correct their voter information. The updated voter list will be used to mail absentee ballots.

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 9 vote will be videotaped and recorded.