district office

Members of the Lockport school board and district administrators talked at length this week about the June 9 budget vote and school board election.

As a result of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's executive order, school elections are being conducted entirely via absentee ballots this year. Voters can either mail their completed ballot or physically drop it off at the district office, 130 Beattie Ave. All ballots must be received by 5 p.m. June 9.

In a normal election year, Clerk Deborah Coder said the district sends out about 300 absentee ballots. This year, as a result of the mail-in procedures put in place in response to the COVID-19 virus, 21,490 ballots have been sent out. In total, last year's budget vote and school board election involved 858 voters. 

During the school board's Wednesday meeting, Coder described the mail-in voting process for trustees, saying registered voters can expect to receive a large envelope with three documents in it. The documents are a two-sided ballot (with the budget vote on one side and the trustees vote on the other side), a ballot envelope and a postage-paid envelope into which the ballot envelope should be inserted. The ballot should be filled out and the oath on it signed before that's inserted into the ballot envelope.

Coder stressed that voters may choose up to four candidates only for the four open school board seats. Selecting more than four candidates will invalidate the ballot, she said.

As the sealed ballots start coming in, they will be placed in one of eight totes allocated for the eight election districts within the school district. The ballots will be unsealed and counted at the Lockport High School cafeteria after the 5 p.m. June 9 deadline for receiving them.

Whether they'll all be counted on election day is uncertain. The trustees said they want that to happen, if it's possible; some acknowledged it may be a logistical issue, depending on how many ballots are received.

Within each election district, three county-certified election inspectors will handle the ballots and record the results, according to Coder. One election inspector will look to see whether the oath is signed and the voter is registered. Another election inspector will then take the ballot (which won't have any identifying information) and record the votes. The third election inspector will be given the ballot and record the votes as well. 

Trustee Karen Young asked whether two voters living in the same residence could send their ballots together. Coder said all ballots must be sent individually because each voter is required to sign the oath. 

The trustees decided that the district will provide personal protective equipment for the election inspectors, who will also have their temperatures checked before ballot processing begins.

The goal is to announce results on June 9 if possible, district officials said. 

This year's school board election features three incumbent trustees and eight first-time candidates pursuing four openings on the board.

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