School budget vote by absentee ballot: Q&A and how-to video

Voting on school budgets and board candidates will be an entirely different experience for most New Yorkers this year, but your voice matters as much as ever. 

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 and sign their ballot, and return it to the school district by one of two methods, with the following deadlines:

Drop-off in the locked box or hand-delivery to the district office
— Tuesday, June 9, by 5 p.m.

*Mail-in and delivery by USPS carrier
— Tuesday, June 16, by 5 p.m.

* Ballots must be received (not postmarked) by the district by 5 p.m. on June 16 in order to be counted.

How and when will I receive my absentee ballot?

The Florida Union Free School District has sent out absentee ballots with prepaid return envelopes to all known registered voters, before the Memorial Day weekend. If you are a qualified voter and do not receive a ballot, you have until June 9 at 5 p.m. to request a ballot by contacting the Office of the School District Clerk at (845) 651-3095.

Am I a qualified voter?

You are eligible to vote if you are a U.S. citizen, 18 years or older, a district resident for at least 30 days prior to the vote, and registered. If you are registered to vote in general elections you are automatically eligible to vote in school elections.

How do I register to vote?

You may register with the Orange County Board of Elections by mail or online through the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles website at

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 cannot be counted.

Please note that as of June 7, by Executive Order of Governor Andrew Cuomo, the deadline for mailed-in ballots has been extended to 5 p.m. on June 16. The deadline for hand-delivered ballots remains June 9, by 5 p.m.

I made a mistake. Can I get a new ballot?

If you tear, deface or wrongly mark your ballot, contact the Office of the District Clerk at (845) 651-3095, immediately, for instructions on how to obtain a new ballot. You have until Tuesday, June 9, 5 p.m.  to request a new ballot. If you are unable to hand-deliver it by the same date and time, your ballot must arrive by mail no-later-than 5 p.m. on June 16.

When should I send my ballot back to the school district?

  • Mail-in option: Fill out and return your ballot in the pre-paid return envelope as soon as possible after you receive it. Mailed-in ballots must be received (not postmarked) by 5 p.m. on June 16 to be counted.
  • Drop-off option: Your ballot can also be dropped off at the District Office until June 9, 5 p.m. School districts cannot accept hand-delivered ballots after this date and time.IMPORTANT:  Please note that as of June 7, by Executive Order of Governor Andrew Cuomo, the deadline for mailed-in ballots has been extended to 5 p.m. on June 16. The deadline for hand-delivered ballots remains June 9, by 5 p.m.

What happens when the district receives my ballot?

The district will collect and hold onto all the ballots until the June 16 deadline for mailed-in ballots. Vote results will be posted to the district’s website as soon as possible.

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. As  such, it will be open to the public via live-stream. Access information will be posted on the district website. In addition, the ballot count will be conducted by election inspectors appointed by the Board of Education.

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 Florida UFSD will begin the counting process at 5 p.m. on June 16. The unofficial results will be available on the district website as soon as the process is complete. The official results will be accepted at the June 18 Board of Education meeting.

Whom do I contact if I have any additional questions?

Please contact the Office of the School District Clerk at (845) 651-3095.