June 1, 2020

Deborah Kuter

Question: As part of the new budget procedure due to Covid-19, voting will be done by absentee ballot only, which I understand were just mailed out today.  The Board of Ed this evening will be voting on Election Inspectors. Unlike in previous years, this year all Election Inspectors are employees of the school district.  While certainly allowable and by my raising this question, it is not my intention to disparage any of the proposed inspectors, this action could be perceived by some in the community as a conflict of interest.  In order to allay public concern, can you please advise the public exactly the procedure and safeguards that will be initiated for the collection, storage, and finally the opening and counting of the ballots.  

Debbie Kuter
Hopewell Junction, NY

Response:  Ballots must be sealed in the oath envelope before being deposited in the dropbox.  The oath envelope must be signed and dated, with the voter’s full name and address on the front of the envelope. During ballot drop off, the ballot box for the deposit of ballots will be monitored at all times by a district employee.  The ballot box will be sealed with a security tag to prevent access to ballots deposited into the box.  After the drop box hours, the ballot box will be transported to the locked area accessed only by the District Clerk. 

All election inspectors will be trained prior to the canvass of ballots on June 9.  Absentee ballots are not removed from the envelope until the canvass of ballots begins on June 9.  Until that time, the ballots are stored in a ballot box in a locked safe/records room.  In addition, the Permanent Chairperson will witness and affirm each time a sealed ballot box is opened or closed.  When the oath envelope is opened, the ballot will be removed, remain folded, and separated from the oath envelope before placing it in a ballot box. No ballot is unfolded until the election inspectors begin counting the ballots. At that time, there will be no way for the election inspector to know whose envelope the ballot came from. This is the same procedure that is followed for canvassing absentee ballots in all annual elections and budget votes. The canvass of ballots will be available via live stream on the district’s YouTube channel.