Ocean County Officials Say Voters Should Not Have Limitations Placed On Them

TOMS RIVER – Ocean County officials say voters should not have limitations placed on them when it comes to casting a ballot in the November Presidential Election.

“Not everyone wants to vote by mail like in the 2020 Primary Election,” said Ocean County Freeholder Gary Quinn, liaison to the Ocean County Clerk’s Office. “We should be able to provide our voters with a choice and not decide for them how they want to cast a ballot in November.”

As the Governor’s stay at home executive orders have been lifted and some gathering numbers have increased, Ocean County officials say opening up more polling places and allowing for in-person voting should be allowed.

“Our citizens should not be told how to cast a ballot,” Quinn said. “When the state starts doing that we begin to chip away at the democratic process.”

On Aug. 5, the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders passed a resolution calling on the Governor to allow for the use of in-person voting machines, in conjunction with voluntary mail-in balloting, in the 2020 General Election to be held Nov. 3.

“Even though the main way to vote in this year’s Primary Election was by mail-in ballot as ordered by the Governor’s Executive Order, over 188,000 voters statewide still went to the limited number of polling places to cast their ballot,” said Ocean County Clerk Scott Colabella. “In Ocean County, that number was more than 12,000 voters.

“However, when they got to the polling place they could not cast their vote on a machine as they have traditionally done but had to fill out a provisional ballot,” Colabella said. “When you have that amount of voters wanting to vote at the polls, like they would normally do, they should be given the opportunity to cast their ballot in a voting booth as they have always done. Governor Murphy needs to hear this.”

Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari said the mail-in voting has a potential for fraud and comes with a much greater expense and takes far more time.

“The Ocean County Clerk’s Office and the Ocean County Board of Elections sent out almost 1 million pieces of information leading up to the Primary Election in June,” Vicari said. “That is a staggering number. It resulted in overtime, printing expenses, and drawing from the staff of all County Government departments to get the information out and then to review it when it was returned.”

According to the Freeholder resolution, the practice of predominantly using mail-in ballots for all registered voters caused concern for voter fraud, voter disenfranchisement, postal delivery delays, significant increase in election costs and reliance on a flawed statewide voter/DMV computer registration data base and resulted in significant delays in the counting of ballots.

“We have heard from many of our voters that they want to wait until Election Day to cast their ballot electronically, in-person, for the candidate of their choice as they have always done. This allows them to fully assess the latest information available,” said Ocean County Freeholder Virginia E. Haines, who is liaison to the Ocean County Board of Election. “It’s all about choice. Choice of the candidate, and the choice of how to vote for them.”

Haines noted that the County is in no way minimizing the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and all polling places would have the appropriate safeguards in place to make sure voting was safe for voters and poll workers.

According to the resolution, well before COVID 19, New Jersey law permitted voting by mail for any reason, allowing any voter, even remotely concerned about in-person voting the option to request a mail-in ballot thus enhancing voter choice.

“Voting is a right and a privilege in America,” Quinn said. “We want to keep it that way in Ocean County and the State should not be telling the voter how they can cast a ballot. That is not how we do things.

“If we can shop at big box stores, wait on long lines for the DMV, buy groceries at Shop Rite, or attend mass demonstrations, surely we can vote at the polls in a voting booth as we have always done,” Quinn said.

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