Counties face individual challenges as NJ moves forward with Election Day Tuesday

Clerks in New Jersey’s 21 counties are working with all expedition to try to furnish voting in Tuesday’s federal elections for residents in a state still reeling from the impact of Hurricane Sandy.

On the heels of a conference call yesterday with the state Division of Elections, county clerks will huddle for a 1 p.m. conference call with the governor’s office to assess the situation.  

“Based on the conference call we had yesterday morning, their attitude is this election is happening,” said Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin. “Each county has its own obstacles.”

In frontline assailed Ocean, GOP Chairman George Gilmore said he does not anticipate voting where the point of the storm impaled the shore.

“There won’t be any polling places open on the barrier islands,” Gilmore told PolitickerNJ.com. “We will probably move them to the mainland, we are talking to the Division of Elections and Attorney General’s Office about a plan.”

Gilmore said he is pushing hard for provisional ballots in every town.

“That way anybody can go to the closest polling places if they’ve been displaced and won’t have to worry about driving all over the place,” the Republican Chairman said. “The state is pushing for regional voting centers, one in Stafford and one in Toms River, for example, and that’s fine, but I don’t think that’s enough. We need additional provisional ballots.”

One thing Gilmore knows is the elections are going forward.

“The only question is accessibility for voters with all the devastation and distractions,” he said. “But we can’t cancel the elections. The state can’t because it’s a federal election.  We have to scramble.”

Durkin said his office is in the process of determining which communities have power and which don’t and hopes to displace the fewest number of people possible on Election Day.

“Everyone was in the office (Wednesday) processing vote by mail ballots and we will continue to do so,” Durkin said.

There is no talk of postponement. The only conversations concern the best battle plans.

Like neighboring Ocean, Monmouth was savaged by the storm.

“We have several shore towns where we are already devising alternate plans,” said Monmouth County Clerk Claire French. “Little by little power is coming back on in our 53 towns. We are setting up voting in my Clerk of Elections office until 3 p.m. Monday. We are assuming we are having voting on schedule come Tuesday.”

French said her office’s goal is to enable Monmouth County residents to vote as close to their beset communities as possible.

"Let’s be clear, this was not a ‘humanitarian’ act by the Castro regime. It was a swap of convicted spies for an innocent American."
—U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ)