In Orange, Williams Cautions N.J. about the Hazards of an All-VBM Primary

Nearing the end of her own mayoral campaign, Orange Councilwoman Donna K. Williams doesn’t recommend all-vote-by-mail (VBM) primary elections. “The ballot itself is so complex, it can be intimidating to the voter,” said Williams, who’s running in a six-person race, which includes incumbent Mayor Dwayne Warren.

Orange’s voter participation so far is low: 2,700 out of a total 16,101, four years after 7,917 voters participated in the 2014 nonprtisan elections. It’s the only Essex County town with an all-VBM election deadline today that is underpeforming, according to Clerk Chris Durkin.

“I definitely would not recommend it for the primary,” said Williams, who lost her mother to COVID-19  and herself spent time in the hospital combating her own case of the virus. “I know it’s not the same thing as Hurricane Sandy, for example, a disaster that did not require social distancing at polling places.”

But New Jersey should find a way to make more conventional voting available in time for the rescheduled July 7th primary, she added. “You’d think with people sitting in their living rooms with ballots delivered and all they have to do is leave it in their mailboxes, that numbers would have doubled, but it’s not the case,” Williams said. “The way it was designed,  it just made a challenging process that much more challenging.”

Governor Phil Murphy yesterday said he expects to make an announcement about his decision concerning the process of July 7th primary elections – maybe by the end of this week.


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