Q&A on the 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 back to the school district by June 9 at 5 p.m. Ballots must be received (not postmarked) by the district by that date in order to be counted.

How and when will I receive my absentee ballot? 

This year, the typical absentee voter qualifications and applications are being waived. The district will send absentee ballots with prepaid return envelopes to Albany County registered voters in Menands on or around June 1. If you are a qualified voter and do not receive a ballot, contact Jeanne Mentiply at 518-465-4561, ext. 106 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.

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 518-465-4561, ext. 106 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 envelopeJune. If your ballot does not arrive at the district by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9, it will not be counted.

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. We will livestream the opening of the budget ballots on June 9.  A link to the livestream will be posted on the district website. Proper social distancing will be maintained during the process as well as adherence to confidentiality rules.

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 Menands School District will begin the counting process on June 9. The results will be available as soon as all ballots have been accounted for, but no later than 5 p.m. on June 10 (24 hours following the deadline for ballots to be received by the district). The results will be posted on the website, Facebook, and sent through Everbridge.

Who do I contact if I have any additional questions? 

Please contact Jeanne Mentiply, District Clerk at 518-465-4561, ext. 106.