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Q&A: How absentee ballots are counted and kept confidential

Don’t see your question answered here? Please contact District Clerk Rebecca J. Smith at 518-993-4000 ext. #1000 or becky.smith@fortplain.org.

Note: Voters approved the 2020-21 budget by a vote of 241-46 on June 16.

For more detailed information about the budget and voting by absentee ballot, go to https://www.fortplain.org/poll-list-and-voting-information/.

UPDATE: On June 8, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an Executive Order extending the deadline for school districts to receive school budget ballots. Completed ballots must be mailed and received by the district no later than 5 p.m. on June 16.  

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, sent out and counted absentee ballots to qualified voters for many years, and will follow that 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.

Is the process open to the public?

The annual school budget vote is an official public meeting of the district, and as such, it is open to the public. The opening of the ballots will be live streamed on Google Meet. To view please follow the instructions below:

How can my vote be confidential if the count is open to the public?

Since ballots are separated from personally identifiable information before they are counted, the public counting process is anonymous. No one viewing the counting of ballots will be able to match a voter’s personally identifiable information with their specific ballot.

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

The Fort Plain Central School District will begin the counting process on June 16, 2020. The results will be available as soon as all ballots have been accounted for, but no later than 5 p.m. on June 17.

How should I return my ballot?

All absentee ballots will include a prepaid return envelope so residents can mail their ballots. Completed ballots must be received by the district by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 16, 2020.

You must certify your eligibility to cast your ballot. This requires that you sign the outer postage-paid return envelope (your ballot will be sealed in a separate inner envelope). There is a designated area for signature on the back of the return envelope. The envelope must be signed for the vote to be counted.

Can I drop off my ballot in person?

Due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, no one will be able to accept ballots in person. Completed ballots must be received by the district by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 16, 2020.

What if I was expecting an absentee ballot but do not receive it before the election?

Please email District Clerk Becky Smith at Becky.smith@fortplain.org or call 518-993-4000 #1000.

How will I know what I am voting on or who I am voting for?

Information on the proposed 2020-21 Budget Vote and Board of Education Candidate Election can be found here: https://www.fortplain.org/proposed-budget-continues-programs-stays-within-the-tax-levy-cap/.

Whom do I contact if I have any additional questions?

Please contact District Clerk Rebecca J. Smith at 518-993-4000 ext. #1000 or becky.smith@fortplain.org.

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