Governor Says State Considering Changes To June 9 School Elections

Stephen J. Kotz
District Clerk Tammy Cavanaugh and election clerk Elizabeth Kotz tallied results September 13, 2018, at the Bridgehampton School.

On Friday, just four days before the June 9 deadline for school ballots in an unprecedented school vote this year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he is considering a deadline extension.

In response to a reporter’s question about the difficulties school districts are facing, during his daily coronavirus briefing June 5, Cuomo said, “We are looking at that. We don’t have a decision yet, we will over this weekend.”

He said he will have a decision by Sunday, just two days before the existing deadline.

By executive order on May 1, Cuomo delayed school elections and budget votes, set statewide on May 16, until June 9, and ordered they be held by mail in an effort to keep New Yorkers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. All school districts have to send ballots to registered voters in its district along with a pre-addressed, pre-paid envelope for the ballot to be returned. The absentee ballots must be returned by June 9 at 5 PM.

There has been confusion surrounding the process and with the Postal Service seemingly overwhelmed many are concerned their vote will not be counted. Many districts have set up secured drop boxes outside of the school so that voters can drop off their ballot instead of mailing it in.

On Friday, day 97 of the novel coronavirus pandemic in New York, Cuomo announced that the state experienced the lowest number of deaths and hospitalizations since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Forty-two people died due to COVID-19 on Thursday, down from a record-high just two months ago.

“Amazing,” he said. “How did you do that? . . . The people of the state radically changed how they behaved. Look at that progress.”

The total number of hospitalizations is down, as of Thursday, to 2728 from a record-high of 18,825 during the state’s pandemic peak.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone appeared exuberant for a moment Thursday at his daily press briefing: when he announced there was only one COVID-19-related death over the previous 24-hour period.

“This is the first time since the third week in March” the number has been so low, Bellone pointed out. Still, he said, “every day a family grieves.”

There have been 1916 novel coronavirus-related deaths recorded in Suffolk, he reported. Nevertheless, as Bellone has fervently hoped for and diligently worked toward, all the key numbers were charting downward — the total number of new cases (40153, up 91), the number requiring hospitalization, (225, an increase of 11), with only 56 COVID-19 patients in ICU beds. All these numbers showed declines from previous weeks and indicate a continued march toward recovery and the lifting of restrictions.

“It is critical the improvement continue after Suffolk moves into Phase 2 of reopening,” Bellone said. Phase 2 will allow outdoor dining, for example, which he felt would increase the call to reopen restaurants altogether. But should the number slide, the county would once again find itself back to square one.

The recent demonstrations protesting the murder of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer have gotten out of hand in some urban cities. Bellone was gratified and proud to report that local demonstrations were textbook examples of the right way to protest. “The public has been doing it peacefully, without violence,” he reported, even following the protocol of social distancing.

Bellone warned against yet more trouble — financial — calling it a “third crisis.”

“I have directed all county departments to identify potential savings,” he said, warning there would be “cuts across the board.” Bellone estimated a recovery time of two to 2.5 years and a deficit of $1.5 billion. “It is a financial emergency. The federal government needs to provide . . . small businesses are struggling to survive,” Bellone said.

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