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School elections to be held June 9 by absentee ballot

Elections in nearly 700 public school districts will take place June 9, by absentee ballots, according to an executive order signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Friday.

The governor also scheduled village elections, that were canceled March 18, for Sept. 15.

The school elections had been scheduled May 18, but the governor postponed them to at least June 1 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Friday, school boards, district clerks and superintendents learned that the elections – where residents vote on annual budgets and propositions and select school board members – will take place in less than six weeks.

"It's a whole different ballgame to get everything done," said Nicole Latza, West Seneca Central School District clerk.

And the executive orders raise a lot of questions that need to be answered soon.

Candidates for school board do not have to file nominating petitions in order to place their name on the ballot, according to the executive order, but do have to meet the qualifications for being a board member.

If they don't file petitions, how would a district know who wants to run, and how do district clerks know if they meet the legal qualifications?

Will this lead to ballots with dozens of candidates?

The executive order requires districts to send out absentee ballots with postage-paid return envelopes to all qualified voters in a district.

Latza said the Erie County Board of Elections will tell districts who the registered voters are, but you don't have to be registered to vote in the general election to vote in a school board election. How will districts find those voters?

Will ballots have to be in the district office by June 9 to be counted?

"We're very short on time right now," Latza said.

Districts are to submit their financial information to the state 18 days before the budget vote, and tax report cards for each district are to be posted on the state education department website by June 2, according to the governor's order.

"Five weeks, that's not a lot of time," Latza said. "We'll get it done. We'll get the answers."

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