Election Responsibilities

Municipal Ballot (CH 414)

Libraries placing funding propositions on a municipal ballot under Section 259 of New York State Education Law will not have to take responsibility for running their own election. In these cases, the petition directing that a proposition be placed on the ballot to increase library funding is directed to the municipality even though the law gives the library board the authority to endorse or reject the petition. If the petition is endorsed by the library board, the municipality must place the proposition before the voters at the next municipal election. The library board is not responsible for running the election.

School District Ballot

Libraries placing funding propositions on a school district ballot under Section 259 of New York State Education Law will not have to take responsibility for running their own election. In these cases, the petition directing that a proposition be placed on the ballot to fund or increase funding to a public library, is directed to the school district. The district is thus responsible for scheduling the election and covering all associated costs. The school district does have the option of scheduling such an election to take place within an existing public library on a date that is different from the annual school election, but it cannot be compelled to do so. Some public libraries offer to cover the costs of holding the election in the library as an incentive for the school district to do so. In any case, the ultimate responsibility for running the election lies with the school district.

Creation of a School District Public Library

A petition signed by 25 registered voters within a school district is required to place a proposition before the voters to create and fund a new school district public library. In these cases, the petition is directed to the school district board. The district is thus responsible for scheduling the election and covering all associated costs. The school district does have the option of scheduling such an election to take place within an existing public library on a date that is different from the annual school election, but it cannot be compelled to do so. Some public libraries offer to cover the costs of holding the election in the library as an incentive for the school district to do so. In any case, the ultimate responsibility for running the election lies with the school district.

Ongoing Funding Propositions for School District Public Libraries

Once a school district public library is formed, Education Law 260.7 authorizes the library board to schedule and run the annual election to approve the budget and elect trustees for the library. These elections must also be held between April 1 and July 1, but the library board can now set the time and place for the election and is responsible for all costs. The school district may be a good source for guidance in the process and can help with wording of propositions, publication of legal notices, and the mechanics of holding the election. If on the other hand, the library board decides not to run the election, the responsibility reverts back to the school district. Most school district public libraries in New York State run their own annual elections but there are situations where a library prefers to let the school district handle the responsibility.

Creation and Funding of a Special Legislative Public Library District and Ongoing Funding Propositions for the District

The state bill that authorizes a local vote to create and fund a special legislative district public library will also specify the party responsible for the election. In most cases, that responsibility will fall upon an existing library that is seeking to re-charter as a special legislative district public library. Generally the responsibilities outlined in the state bill will include: scheduling the time and place for the election; establishing polling places; appointing election inspectors and an election chair who will certify and deliver the results of the election to the library board; publishing and positing legal notices announcing the election and the issues to be decided. Besides the responsibilities highlighted in the state bill, there are many other practical concerns that will need to be attended to. These include: determining and arranging for the mechanism for the vote (i.e., paper ballots, voting machines, etc.); handling absentee ballots; etc. The library must cover all costs associated with the election.

A guide to election laws and regulations in New York State as well as rulings and opinions can be found on the State Board of Elections web siteexternal link opens in a new window. Libraries can also seek guidance from the local board of elections, school districts, municipalities and other libraries that have gone through the process.

Last Updated: December 2, 2014 -- asm [created January 27, 2005]; for questions or comments, contact us