May 05, 2020 Executive Order 202.26 – School Election and Budget Vote
KEEPING YOU INFORMED…
As we have previously informed you, Executive Order 202.13 postponed the School Election and Budget Vote (“the Vote”). Late Friday afternoon, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.26 (“the Executive Order”) which, among other things, sets forth the timing, location and manner of the Vote. The Vote has officially been moved to June 9, 2020, and voting will take place only by absentee ballot. A timeline setting forth the important dates and deadlines for the Vote is attached and additional information about the Vote is provided below.
1. Nominating Petitions
Nominating petitions are required to be filed in the office of the district clerk by no later than 5:00 p.m. on Monday, May 11, 2020. The Executive Order eliminates the requirement for signatures on the nominating petitions. The nominating petitions, however, are still required to set forth the candidate’s name, the candidate’s residence and, in districts where candidates run for specific seats, the seat for which the candidate is running including the name of the incumbent and the length of the term to be filled (in districts where candidates run “at large” the nominating petition need not include information regarding a seat). Therefore, if any qualified individual submits a petition or letter that includes the required information, that individual should be added to the ballot for the stated position as a candidate (see paragraph 4 below for information about the placement on the ballot).
The Executive Order adds a requirement that all districts send a postcard notice that includes: (i) the date of the election; (ii) the date of the budget hearing; (iii) the definition of a qualified voter (a qualified voter is a person who is a United States citizen, at least 18 years old, a “resident” of the school district for at least 30 days prior to the Vote and is not otherwise prohibited from voting pursuant to the provisions of New York Election Law § 5-106 (e.g., a person who was adjudged mentally incompetent)); and (iv) “an absentee ballot.” We believe that the reference to “an absentee ballot” in this section of the Executive Order is incorrect and that it should have stated that all voting will be conducted by absentee ballot because it is not possible to include an absentee ballot on a postcard.
There is no date by which the postcard is required to be sent. The intent of the postcard is to provide the public with information regarding the Vote. It is our opinion that districts should send the postcard as soon as possible and include a statement that all voting will take place by absentee ballot. A district may also wish to add the following statement on the postcard: “If you believe that you are a qualified voter and you do not receive an absentee ballot by June 1, 2020, please contact [INSERT DISTRICT CLERK’S NAME] at [INSERT EMAIL ADDRESS] so that an absentee ballot can be sent to you. In addition, if you are not currently registered to vote, you can register by June 4, 2020 with the Board of Elections by filing an online application with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that will enable the school district to transmit an absentee ballot to you for this election. The online DMV voter registration can be found at https://dmv.ny.gov/more-info/electronic-voter-registration-application.”
We also recommend that each district post the information from the postcard on its website as soon as possible.
3. Legal Notice
Each district is required to publish its legal notice only two times for the Vote, with the first publication being no later than May 12, 2020. Previously prepared notices should be reviewed and revised to conform to the requirements of the Executive Order.
Pursuant to the Executive Order, the ballot must alphabetically list the candidates.
As set forth in more detail below in paragraph 6, for districts located in Nassau and Suffolk counties, all information must be set forth in both English and Spanish on the same ballot as follows:
PROPOSITION 1/LA PROPUESTA 1
Shall the following resolution be adopted: RESOLVED, that the Board of Education ….
La Siguiente mocion debe ser implementada: La resolution que la Junata Educacional …
Yes/Si ___ No/No ___
5. Absentee Ballot
The Executive Order requires districts to send absentee ballots with a postage paid return envelope to all qualified voters. The definition of qualified voter does not require a voter to be registered. We recommend that you use your current list of registered voters, the list of registered voters from the Board of Elections, as well as any other mailing lists for residents that the district has available. It is unclear whether a district is required to count all of the absentee ballots that it receives or only those ballots received from registered voters. We are hoping to obtain guidance from the Governor on this issue.
6. Spanish Translation
The Voting Rights Act requires that districts in Nassau and Suffolk counties have voting information set forth in both English and Spanish. The Executive Order has not revised this requirement and, therefore, these districts must continue to have all election materials translated into Spanish.
If you have any questions regarding the implementation of the above-outlined provisions of Executive Order 202.26, please contact Mara Harvey or one of our other attorneys by calling (631) 694-2300.
THIS MEMORANDUM IS MEANT TO ASSIST IN GENERAL UNDERSTANDING OF THE CURRENT LAW. IT IS NOT TO BE REGARDED AS LEGAL ADVICE. THOSE WITH PARTICULAR QUESTIONS SHOULD SEEK THE ADVICE OF COUNSEL.
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© Lamb & Barnosky, LLP 2020