Harckham Introduces Bill to Extend School District Voting Until June 16

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State Sen. Peter Harckham (D-Lewisboro) proposed legislation Tuesday to extend the voting period for this year’s school board and budget votes until June 16 because paper ballots for at least 30 districts have been delayed in arriving.

A Buffalo area company, NTS Data Services, which had the contract to print ballots and send the ballots out to residents in about 50 districts statewide, did not have enough envelopes to complete all the mailings, Harckham said.

In the area, school officials in Mahopac and Brewster contracted with NTS Data and reached out to Harckham to request more time so their residents can receive ballots and have a fair opportunity to vote.

“This company has caused a lot of problems for a lot of school districts and they want to comply with the executive order and have a fair and orderly election,” he said.

Earlier this spring, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order that postponed the original May 17 school board and budget vote because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The order mandated that there would no polling locations and that the vote would be held entirely by paper ballot that would be mailed out to all registered voters in each district.

In order to be counted, the ballots must be received by each district clerk’s office by 5 p.m. on June 9.

Harckham said the governor could extend the voting for a week but if he didn’t the bill would be a backup plan for the entire state. It would have to be passed and signed into law by next Monday.

“I guess in the perfect world the governor would revise his executive order to give voters more time, but in case he doesn’t, we have submitted this legislation,” he said.

Besides Mahopac and Brewster, Harckham said he has heard some complaints in Dutchess County. Otherwise, he is not aware of any widespread difficulties elsewhere.

Impacted school districts have been looking for alternatives to delivering and collecting completed ballot forms, including door-to-door voting services, he said.

Extension of voting would include the board of education election, budget votes and any library board vote and propositions that would also be on the school district’s ballot.

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