Auburn school district outlines steps for maintaining absentee ballot confidentiality
EDUCATION

Auburn school district outlines steps for maintaining absentee ballot confidentiality

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Voting

Auburn Enlarged City School District Superintendent Jeff Pirozzolo, left, Danielle Wood, board member Jeff Gasper, district school business official Lisa Green and board president Kathleen Rhodes, right, look at updated voting results in May 2019.

The Auburn Enlarged City School District is stressing the confidentiality of the absentee ballots being used for budget voting and school board elections this year due to COVID-19.

After receiving various questions about the confidentiality of the absentee ballots, the district issued a news release this week addressing the topic. Ballots have been sent to all registered voters in the district to comply with Gov. Andrew Cuomo's order for a mail-only election this year.

One side of the ballot has two propositions, and people can simply vote yes or no for each. The names of the four school board candidates are on the other side of the ballot. People can choose three out of the four candidates by filling in the oval to the right of the candidate's name, the release said.

To vote for a people not on the ballot, voters can write in the name of a person they would want to nominate in the write-in area. Every ballot has instructions on filling it out.

“We understand that voting by absentee ballot is new to many voters,” district Superintendent Jeff Pirozzolo said in the news release. “Some people may be uneasy about the process due to unfamiliarity, but the board of elections has measures in place to ensure votes are counted accurately and are kept confidential.”

The absentee ballots are sent with two different envelopes — an oath envelope and a postage-paid return envelope. Votes should be made on the absentee ballot, the release said, and then the ballot must be inserted inside the oath envelope and sealed.

Voters must provide name and residence on the front of the oath envelope and sign and date the back of the oath envelope. The oath envelope should then be inserted into the return envelope and mailed back.

The news release said when the school district gets return envelopes containing absentee ballots, it is opened and the sealed oath envelope is removed and put aside in a secure area until the day of the vote.

On the day of the vote, June 9, election inspectors will review the oath envelopes to verify the person is a qualified voter and the envelope is signed and dated.

Once verified, an election inspector will open the oath envelope and remove the ballot, put the folded ballot in one pile and the oath envelope in another pile to ensure confidentiality. The ballots will then be unfolded, shuffled and inserted into a machine to be counted, the news release said.

“Local election officials also go to great lengths in their ballot handling procedures to ensure your vote and personal information are kept private,” Pirozzolo said.

In the uncommon occurrence that a qualified voter gets duplicate ballots, only one ballot should be returned.

"If both ballots are returned, election inspectors will only count the first ballot received. In the event a ballot is received from a non-qualified voter, the ballot will be discarded and the vote will not count," the news release said.

Qualified voters who did not get a ballot can ask for one by contacting District Clerk Shelly Major through michellemajor@aecsd.education or (315) 255-8850.

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