Calls for deadline extension as local school districts deal with absentee ballot delays

Local

COLONIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Due to COVID-19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order for school budget votes to happen exclusively by absentee ballots. However, many districts across the region and the state experienced a delay in getting those ballots out in the mail.

Carl Mummenthey, the Superintendent of Cobleskill-Richmondville Central School District, said while the district met all of its deadlines for providing required information, the printing vendor they used experienced delays in both the production and distribution of ballots.

“We had the responsibility of preparing the mailing lists, which we secured from the Board of Elections, and preparing the ballot. We joined many other schools in the Capital Region and contracted with a third party printer that was responsible for printing and mailing the ballots and we learned yesterday that our ballots were not processed and mailed in a timely fashion,” said Mummenthey.

Mummenthey said it’s likely due to the high demand in a short amount of time.

“I would imagine some of it was a capacity issue. We’re a very large state and to pivot so suddenly from on-site to absentee balloting put strains in terms of resources and labor,” said Mummenthey.

Joseph Corr, Superintendent of North Colonie Central Schools, told NEWS10 ABC that ballots were supposed to be in the mail by Monday, but they found out they had not been delivered to the post office until Wednesday evening. He said ballots should reach mailboxes by this weekend, but the problem is, votes must be in by 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 9.

“It doesn’t mean postmarked on June 9, it means received,” said Corr.

With such a tight deadline, both districts told NEWS10 that they have put contingency plans in place. They’ve set up drive-thru drop offs and 24 hour ballot boxes at a number of their schools.

“When we were confronted with this circumstance, we felt we needed to provide our voters with every opportunity to get a ballot, to submit a ballot,” said Corr.

Senator Jim Tedisco, of Glenville, is calling for the Governor to push the deadline back to June 16 so all voters have the opportunity to get their vote in. He also said they shouldn’t have to feel rushed.

The senator said voters should have time to review all of the information on the ballot, including referendums regarding capital projects, and any board member candidates that may be up for election.

“So I think he should at least give them that extra week to research and evaluate what’s on that ballot so that they can make informed votes,” said Senator Tedisco.

Lloyd Robistow, a resident in the Mohonasen Central School District, echoing those concerns.

“It’s important because there’s a lot of stuff going on, especially with the state of the economy, I want my voice heard on how they’re spending money and make sure they’re spending it the right way,” said Robistow.

He added that if the Governor extends the deadline, he should just open polls, too. He said if we can put masks on and go to the store, we should be able to put masks on and go vote.

“If he’s going to push it back, I would do it two-fold, push it back and open up the polling places,” said Robistow.

When asked about the issue on Friday morning, Governor Cuomo said he understood the issue and was looking into it.

“We’re looking at it and we’ll have a decision by Sunday,” said Governor Cuomo.

The Rensselaer City School District is not experiencing this issue because their district went through the County Board of Elections.

“In this district, and this district only in New York State, Board of Elections is responsible for the ballots of the Board of Education members and the absentee ballots,” said Superintendent Joe Kardash. The exact reason behind that is unclear, but Kardash told NEWS10 that it’s been written in their school law for decades. Their ballots were sent out the Friday before Memorial Day.

The Cobleskill-Richmond Central School District is asking voters not to mail in their ballots and instead drop them off to ensure their votes are counted.

“C-R is staffing drive-thru ballot drop tents on Friday, Saturday and Monday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at our Ryder Elementary campus (143 Golding Drive, Cobleskill, first parking lot on left, door A18) and our Radez Elementary campus (319 Main St., Richmondville, door D2). District staff will be on site at each of the drop-off locations during those hours. C-R also has installed secure drop-boxes on our Radez and Ryder campuses, as well as at our district office at 155 Washington Avenue (Door D5), Cobleskill. Voters may drop off your ballot anytime at any of those locations between now and 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 9.  Drop-box areas are under 24/7 video surveillance.

For voters who do not receive a ballot by Saturday, June 6, C-R has arranged for in-person ballot pick-up. Qualified voters can come to the district office, at 155 Washington Avenue in Cobleskill, to pick up a ballot on Monday, June 8, or Tuesday, June 9, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to pick up a ballot and vote. Voters will be required to show proof of residency in the district (i.e., driver’s license, lease, utility bill with current address, etc.).”

For North Colonie Central School District:

“If you are a qualified voter of the district and have not received a ballot by June 6, we have arranged for in-person ballot pick-up.

If you do not receive your ballot by the end of the day on June 6, individuals can come to Goodrich (District Office) at 91 Fiddlers Lane on Sunday, June 7; Monday, June 8 or Tuesday, June 9 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to pick up a ballot and vote.

Individuals will be required to show proof of residency in the district (i.e. driver’s license, lease, utility bill with current address, etc.).  

If you have received a ballot in the mail by June 6, but are worried that it won’t be received by the district via mail by 5 p.m. on June 9, we have added receptacles clearly identified as Ballot Boxes available at all schools:

Ballot boxes will be at the front entrance of Blue Creek, Boght Hills, Forts Ferry, Latham Ridge, Loudonville, Southgate, Shaker Junior High and Shaker Senior High as well as at Goodrich School (District Office) and Maplewood School. 

Individuals can drop their ballots in any of these boxes beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 6 up through 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9.”

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