OSWEGO COUNTY — Oswego County school districts received 10,000 more school budget votes compared to last year, a staggering increase for elections conducted almost entirely by mail.
New York State Education Department (NYSED) records show Oswego County’s nine public school districts received a total of 16,347 votes via absentee ballot this year. Votes were tallied Tuesday and most school districts certified results at Board of Education meetings shortly after.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo mandated schools hold their votes via absentee ballot this year in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Eligible voters received ballots by mail and returned them to the district either through drop boxes at school buildings or the U.S. Postal Service.
"I just want to thank everyone who took the time to vote," Oswego Board of Education President Heather DelConte said at a Wednesday virtual board meeting to certify the results. "It was a complicated and very cumbersome process."
The total number of voters cast in all nine districts combined this year was approximately 16,000, according to NYSED data. That’s nearly three times the total of 2019’s vote, which had 5,723 votes cast. Before thanking the voters for their support, Fulton Board of Education President Robbin Griffin recognized district clerk Jean Perry and her team of volunteers for organizing the vote and counting all the ballots.
"They worked a very long day yesterday even though it started late. I appreciate all of the effort that went into making certain that every vote was counted and accounted for," Griffin said. "Mrs. Perry, I can't thank you enough for guiding us through this process. You have spent countless hours — I lost track weeks ago — as you worked with our attorney to make sure that every detail was understood. You put together a wonderful plan that you executed with your team very nicely yesterday."
All nine school districts saw an increase over last year’s turnout. Many had their highest vote totals since at least 2003, and some bounced from the lowest vote totals to one of their highest numbers.
Here’s a breakdown on the numbers for each school:
With 3,974 votes received, it was the highest voter turnout for an Oswego City School District election since 2005 when 5,009 ballots were cast.
Since 2003, the district has received 3,000 or more ballots nine times, including in 2016 (3,637), 2010 (3,766), 2009 (3,222), 2008 (3,348), 2006 (3,367), 2004 (3,793) and 2003 (3,673). All of those budgets passed except 2008.
The lowest total since 2003 came last year with only 1,411 votes tallied.
The Fulton City School District received 2,362 ballots for this budget vote, more than five times higher than last year (545).
The next highest voter turnout since 2003 came in 2004, when Fulton had 1,261 ballots cast. The lowest came in 2018 when there were only 482 votes.
Over the last 18 budget votes, Fulton has averaged around 1,027 ballots.
With 874 ballots cast, the Altmar-Parish-Williamstown Central School District saw its highest turnout since 2008, when residents rejected the 2008-09 budget by a 374-614 margin.
This year’s mark was the second highest in ballots cast since 2003, followed by 2005 (632) and 2004 (606). The lowest total came in 2013 with 242 votes received.
With 3,143 ballots received this year, it was the highest voter turnout for the Central Square Central School District since at least 2003.
This year’s total was close to doubling that of the second highest turnout in that timeframe, which came in 2005 (1,738). The lowest total since 2003 came in 2018 when it fell to 880, the only time it’s been below 1,000.
The Hannibal Central School District rebounded from its lowest turnout last year (237 votes) to 885 this year.
Hannibal has eclipsed 900 votes twice in the last 18 years. There were 1,810 ballots received in 2005 when the budget was soundly defeated 418-1,392, and 963 votes were cast in 2010.
There were nearly 1,000 more votes cast this year than last year in the Mexico Academy and Central School District.
Last year 834 votes were cast in the district, with 1,830 being received this year.
The second highest vote total since 2003 came in 2005, when 1,263 votes were cast. The district has eclipsed 1,000 votes five times in that span, but the lowest total came in 2014 when only 627 votes were recorded.
This year’s vote total of 1,700 was by far and away the highest for the Phoenix Central School District total since 2003.
This year’s total was more than four times that of last year (381), and was more than the last four years combined.
The second highest amount of ballots received came in 2005 when 991 votes were received.
The ballot total for this year was the third highest for the Pulaski Academy and Central School District since 2003.
This year 776 ballots were received. The budget was defeated 411-599 in 2005 with 1,010 total votes. There were 878 votes cast in 2006.
PACS is rebounding from its lowest total of 228 ballots, which came last year.
The Sandy Creek Central School District recorded 803 votes this year, the most the district has seen since at least 2003 when 710 votes were cast.
The lowest total came in 2018 with only 226 votes came in.