Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin says the process for emailed and faxed ballot applications is swamping his office and creating a processing crisis in the middle of a presidential election.
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno on Saturday issued a directive to county clerks that they must process voting applications for residents displaced by Hurricane Sandy.
That led to today’s bombardment.
“Here’s the problem with emails and faxes,” said Durkin. “This is not for people sitting in their homes, but people are acting like this is a voting option for them. The problem is the people truly displaced are being harmed. The email option is only for people who are truly displaced. This directive works on the honors system; it doesn’t apply to people who can’t make it to the polls.”
Durkin said his office is receiving thousands of emails and faxes. Each takes 15 minutes to process, including signature verification, bogging down his staff in an unmanageable situation.
There is also confusion around provisional ballots.
People whose usual polling places have moved are in some cases heading into local stations and filling out provisional ballots, which technically, again, are available for hurricane-displaced voters not simply voters looking for the polling locations and settling for those most convenient.
Durkin’s worries he could run out of provisional ballots at some polling places and those truly in need because of strom displacement won’t be able to vote.
A Bergen source said a polling location in his county has already run out of provisional ballots.