Q&A on absentee ballot process

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 by June 16 at 5 p.m. This deadline was extended by executive order from the original June 9 deadline. Ballots must be received (not postmarked) by the district by that date in order to be counted. Ballots hand delivered to the district office drop box must be received by the original deadline of June 9 at 5 p.m.

When will I receive my absentee ballot?

Like many school districts in the region, Cohoes is experiencing delays due to high demand in the delivery of absentee ballots for our budget vote and board election. We are communicating with post office employees, who have indicated that ballots were delivered on or around Thursday, June 4.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for your patience as we work through this process.

If you are a registered voter and do not receive a ballot, contact District Clerk Johanna Maloney at jmmalone@cohoes.org as soon as possible.

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, you are a qualified voter in the 2020-21 school budget vote and board election, but you must be registered in order to automatically receive a ballot.

I got my absentee ballot. Now what?

Once you receive your ballot, carefully read and follow the directions. Sign and date the envelope where indicated. If your envelope is unsigned, your vote can not 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 jmmalone@cohoes.org 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. If your ballot does not arrive at the district by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 16, 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.

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, mailed and counted absentee ballots for many years. It will follow the 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.

When will the results of the budget vote and board election become available to the public?

The Cohoes City School District will begin the counting process at 5:01 p.m. on Tuesday, June 16. The board of education has approved three election inspectors to tabulate the ballots. The election inspectors will count the votes in the new gym at Cohoes High School. The Superintendent and Board Clerk, both Cohoes residents, will certify the vote when the process is complete. The results will be available as soon as all ballots have been counted. Results will be publicized through Blackboard email as well as the district’s social media channels and website. The board of education will accept the results at their June 17 meeting.

Who do I contact if I have any additional questions?

Please contact District Clerk Johanna Maloney at jmmalone@cohoes.org.

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