Ballot delays hinder some school districts

Contributed photoA drop box outside the Catskill school district office where voters can submit their completed absentee ballots by Tuesday.

A delay in getting school district absentee ballots out to some voters in the Twin Counties may make it difficult to get their votes in on time.

Voters across the Twin Counties are receiving absentee ballots to vote on this year’s school budgets and board of education elections, but for some, the turnaround time will be quick — and some may have to drop their ballots off at district drop boxes to make the 5 p.m. June 9 deadline.

All voting statewide on school district budgets and board of education elections will be done by mail-in ballot due to the coronavirus outbreak. There will be no in-person voting this year.

With school districts around the state required to mail out ballots, and with some supply chains impacted by the COVID-19 virus, a shortage on the envelopes required for the mailing was created for one mailing vendor used by larger districts.

There was a delay in getting ballots out to voters in the Hudson City School District.

“We, along with multiple other districts in the Capital Region, Mid-Hudson Valley and Western New York, relied on a reputable mail service to mail out our ballots because we are sending them to all registered voters,” Hudson District Superintendent Maria Lagana Suttmeier said. “They ran out of supplies because of a delayed delivery due to the pandemic, so our ballots were delayed.”

Once the delay was discovered, Hudson district employees worked through the Memorial Day weekend to resolve the problem, Suttmeier said.

“We found another provider in the Albany area that was able to turn it around for us and get it in the mail by Tuesday afternoon,” she said. “Some people started receiving them on June 3 and we expect more to arrive June 4 and 5.”

The June 9 deadline for ballots to be received by school districts makes getting those ballots in on time difficult, so some districts have installed drop boxes outside district offices and school buildings so voters can drop off their ballot.

“As a district, we have opened up five additional contactless drop boxes so people can physically come and drop off their ballots so we receive them by the deadline of 5 p.m. June 9,” Suttmeier said. “Short of the governor extending the deadline, there is nothing we can do to accommodate voters other than what the governor allows.”

In the Catskill Central School District, absentee ballots were not delayed, District Superintendent Ronel Cook said. They were sent out Monday and voters should have received them by Thursday.

That makes for a quick turnaround for the completed ballot to be received in the mail by the deadline, so the district has a drop box behind the superintendent’s office at 343 West Main St., Catskill, Cook said.

“Whether you mail your ballot or drop it in the lock box, the district must receive your ballot no later than 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9, 2020,” Cook said. “Absentee ballots received after 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9, will not be counted.”

He encouraged voters to use the drop box “to ensure that your vote counts.”

The Coxsackie-Athens Central School District used a different supplier for ballots and envelopes, and did not experience a delay.

“Our ballots were sent out on time so we did not have the problem other districts had,” District Superintendent Randall Squier said.

For voters who do not mail their ballots in on time, there is no drop box in the Coxsackie-Athens district, but they can drop them off at the office at the Coxsackie campus on Sunset Boulevard.

“People can come to the district office and drop off their ballots,” Squier said. “If they did not receive a ballot and think they should, they can come in and pick one up. We will be here in the office until 5 p.m. on Tuesday.”

Ballots in the Germantown Central School District went out on time, District Superintendent Susan Brown said.

“They were mailed on Tuesday, May 26, to all voters in the district,” Brown said. “We mailed them in-house, so we did not have delays.”

There are no drop boxes and ballots must be mailed in, she added.

The Germantown district office mailed out approximately 3,700 ballots to eligible voters.

“The board clerk and other employees worked throughout the Memorial Day weekend to make sure they could be mailed by Tuesday,” Brown said.

Chatham Central School District ballots were mailed to voters June 1, according to the district’s website.

“The late mailing date is the result of a massive backlog at the vendor that printed and processed the ballots,” according to a statement on the district’s website.

To ensure voters have the opportunity to submit their ballots on time, there will be “secure curbside ballot drop off” on Monday from noon to 7 p.m., and Tuesday, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the main entrance of the Mary E. Dardness Elementary School, 50 Woodbridge Ave., Chatham. The drop box will be attended during the drop-off period to ensure votes are secure, according to the district’s website.

In the Ichabod Crane Central School District, ballots can be mailed in or dropped off at the district office, 2910 Route 9, Valatie, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to the district’s website.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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