In an era of social distancing due to COVID-19, the Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) Board will encourage the public to use mail-in ballots to vote on the next school budget. 

The board will not likely be sending ballots to every registered voter. “Currently we do not have a situation where we would mail ballots to each voter. That’s not the directive. But, that’s not to say that it couldn’t happen,” said board chair Caitlin Hollister. 

Instead, the board will encourage voters to contact their town clerks and fill out their mail-in ballots as early as possible, once the school budget has been warned for a vote. “We highly encourage early voting via mail-in ballot,” said Hollister, speaking on behalf of the board. 

There are many ways one can access a mail-in ballot. “You can call or email your town clerk’s office or call the secretary of state’s office,” said Hollister. However, mail-in ballots might not be the only voting option for the school budget. 

The school board will consider asking town officials to pair mail-in voting with limited in-person voting hours. For instance, on a typical day, polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but on the day of this budget vote, “There could be reduced in-person voting hours to mitigate everyone’s exposure risk,” said Hollister. 

The board will also consider a drive-through ballot collection option. 

Regardless of how the voting options pan out, the board is focused on providing the public with enough time to submit their ballots. Currently, the maximum time frame between the school board’s approval of a budget and the public’s vote is 40 days. “We want to get as many days as possible between votes,” said Hollister. 

The law permits a seven-day turn around between a school board and public vote, but Hollister believes that would be too quick. “By doing something, say, 38 days out, we have time to get the word out, time to work on more logistics and time for as many of those mail-in ballots to get received by the voters and then back to the town clerks,” said Hollister. 

The board expects the budget vote to occur in mid to late May.