If any “mandate” is evident over this past week or two, it is that our election laws need an in depth study and then perhaps an overhaul. I believe the Secretary of State’s office did its best to meet the challenges of Hurricane Sandy and election day, but it is obvious many questions should be raised.
While the “provisional”, on line and faxed ballots are still being counted, I wonder how many folks who used the latter two processes know that they gave up their right to privacy by casting these ballots? Who will take custody of the emailed and faxed ballots and who will make sure they are secure? Will others be able to view them and find out who in their communities voted in a particular way? Lots of questions after the count is completed.
Early voting is certainly a step forward for many states. But in New Jersey we have to figure out how to implement this with more than conceivably 600 different ballots depending upon the municipality, congressional district or school district in which you are voting. Can the voting machines accommodate this in central county places or do we need a different one for each municipality? Should we instead run all early voting with paper ballots in county locations or in each municipality?
I am not suggesting that we cannot and should not figure out the answers to these questions. But I do think we need a comprehensive review. That review should include input from those on the “front lines” of implementing voting in our state: County Clerks, Supts. of Elections, County Boards of Elections and Municipal Clerks. I can speak from experience about Bergen County. Many at the county level worked hard and long in sometimes unheated and unlit buildings to accomodate our citizens’ cherished right to vote. In some few places local officials were completely unaware of their responsibilities in this most important endeavor. That really disappoints me, but is a fact which must also be reviewed!
So let’s get that very important work done, and not just tweak some things. A joint hearing of the Senate and Assembly State Government Committees would be a place to start. A Commission made up of the “front line” folks could also work to come up with a solution with a particular time line. Let’s review what we do in disasters of this kind which might come to us with less public notice.
Legislature has important work to do over the next months starting with helping in the vast recovery effort; deciding about the proposed tax cut; implementing ObamaCare; New Jersey Supreme Court vacancies; minimum wage hike; overriding Marriage Equality veto; and reviewing our own reactions to this disaster, along with the review of our election laws. Let’s get to it.
The Election: Congratulations to all the winners! And thank you to those who didn’t win in our state, but put their names forth to the public. We have important work to do.
Veteran’s Day was celebrated yesterday in some places and in others today. To all our veterans, past, current and active you have our collective “Thank You”. You have our support for all you have done and will continue to do to protect us.