DUTCHESS COUNTY – Governor Cuomo had ordered all school board and school budget votes to be conducted by mail-in ballots, also known as absentee ballots, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many school districts throughout the state contract with NTS Data Services in Niagara Falls for ballot printing and. The law requires ballots to be mailed to voters by June 3 and NTS announced they may not be able to meet that requirement this year.
Early last week, school districts were told by NTS that most ballots were set to be mailed to voters on Friday, May 29. Poughkeepsie School District Clerk passed that information along to the school board and the community during a streaming board meeting. On the day ballots were supposed to be mailed, NTS sent an email to their clients announcing a potential problem. The email said, in part “There is a significant supply issue with envelopes, very similar to what happened with toilet paper and hand sanitizer in recent months but on a commercial level. We were set to receive a delivery of millions of envelopes prior to the Memorial Day weekend that did not show up. We had prepared by printing all the components of the absentee ballot packs we had in stock including ballots for every school district. When the delayed trucks arrived on Wednesday (May 27), they were missing the bulk of the supplies that had been ordered 2 weeks prior. We spent the day triaging the situation and reaching out to State Assemblymen and Senators asking for help. We had a call with someone connected to the Governor’s office last night (May 28) in an attempt to resolve the issue. ”
The Poughkeepsie City School District Clerk, Becky Torres, put a bulletin on their website, advising the voters of the issue. “NTS has assured the districts that they are making efforts to meet the June 3 deadline. “We are working to deliver everything before the deadline. It is an awful situation and unfortunately totally out of our control. Your district is not the only District affected. We are doing everything we can to fix the problem.”
The Arlington Central School District is a client of NTS. The district has been informed that their ballots were mailed to all eligible voters on Monday, June 1. The Wappinger Central School District (WCSD) is another affected NTS client. On Saturday, the district put a special notice on its website announcing the problem. “The District is working on a contingency plan should the supply chain issue not be resolved. We will update the District’s website as soon as ballots have been mailed. We will also be making arrangements to allow scheduled days and times for physical drop off of ballots prior to June 9th, as well as on June 9th at different school locations throughout the district. Upon receiving a ballot in the mail, our goal is to ensure that our community is provided opportunities to submit your ballot in two ways – mail-in or drop-off physically at designated locations and times for your convenience. Additional information on that process will be forthcoming.”
The Hyde Park Central School District (HPCSD) was holding an emergency board meeting on June 1 to discuss contingency plans in the event that the ballots for the budget vote and board elections are not mailed by the deadline.
NTS handles the preparation of ballots for more than fifty school districts in New York and all of the districts have been notified of delays. The company has not responded to requests seeking comment as of June 1.