Essex Clerk Durkin Gives Instructions about May 12th Elections


“Because of the coronavirus, the May 12th election [which includes rescheduled school board elections in key towns] will be an all vote-by-mail election,” according to a public service announcement from the Essex County Clerk’s Office. “You cannot vote at your polling place on Election Day.”

The impacted towns?

Belleville, Irvington, Montclair, Newark, Nutley and Orange.

They are mailing election ballots to all registered voters.

Prepaid postage is attached, so voters don’t need stamps.

The only town in Essex to face a May 12th crisis election this year that will combine originally scheduled April school board elections and regularly slated nopartisan elections, Irvington navigates an original version of the COVID-19 election year unknown, according to an InsiderNJ piece posted last week.

“It is a unique circumstance, being that usually April and May elections are usually very low turnout,” said Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin. “To open it up to the full universe of registered voters creates a challenge for candidates.”

To begin with, “You have to change the way you campaign,” the clerk added. “There’s no face to face no. It’s mostly social media.”

The all vote-by-mail (VBM) combined school board and nonpartisan Irvington election presents particular challenges to a party organization in power that has long relied on conventional GOTV strategies.

“Vote by mail is problematic because our strength has always been to get more people to the polls,” Irvington Mayor Tony Vauss – the leader of Team Irvington Strong – told InsiderNJ. “But we have adapted, and we are getting our message out there.

“There is a lot of uncertainty, and we will absolutely be put to the test, because vote-by-mail is very technical,” Vauss added. “If you don’t do everything right, your vote doesn’t count. So it’s an unknown for everybody.”

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