(The link will be live beginning at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 16)
The City School District of Albany will live-stream the opening and counting of ballots in this year’s budget vote and Board of Education election.
The district plans to begin counting votes at 5 p.m. Tuesday, which is the deadline for mail-in ballots to be received at Academy Park. The opportunity to deliver ballots in person and to pick up new ballots ended this past Tuesday.
Governor Cuomo ordered in May that all New York school districts conduct this year’s budget vote and board election completely by absentee ballot due to the COVID-19 crisis. On June 7, he extended the deadline for mail-in ballots from June 9 to June 16 due to problems that many districts statewide encountered with vendors contracted to handle the ballot mailings.
The district will be hand-counting ballots. Due to the short timeframe between the budget vote and the statewide June 23 primary, the Albany County Board of Elections was unable to provide the district with voting machines to scan ballots.
As the district receives each returned mailing envelope,
the sealed oath envelope that contains the ballot is removed from the mailing envelope,
the signature is compared against the poll book to ensure the voter is a registered voter, and
the sealed oath envelopes then are sorted by voting location – the district has 15 voting locations.
To ensure privacy in the voting process, the law requires, and the district follows, a clearly defined protocol for opening oath envelopes and recording absentee ballots. Each step is completely discreet and separate to ensure that folded ballots are separated from the signed oath envelopes so that no ballot, when counted, can be associated with the oath envelope in which it was delivered to the district.
When the counting begins June 16,
each oath envelope for a voting location will be opened and the ballots separated from the envelopes without being unfolded or reviewed in any way,
the still-folded ballots will be shuffled without being opened or reviewed in any way, and
an election inspector will select a ballot at random, and read the votes to a second person who will record the votes. Neither person knows who any ballot came from, and voter privacy is preserved.
The entire process will be live-streamed from beginning to end to ensure transparency.