This year there is an incredible influx of new voters, so much so that it is overwhelming election offices throughout the state. Some offices are working seven days a week, including holidays and weekends. Twelve hour workdays are a standard most week days. It’s really overwhelming the system.
In addition to all these new voters — those from the February primary and the current massive influx — there are expectations of significant turnout this year. We’re talking 70, 80 percent or more of registered voters.
That’s 80 percent of all registered voters, including the thousands of thousands of new ones coming in every day. More than in any recent election, and maybe in any election.
But as you can see from the overtime and new hires in our county election offices, our infrastructure is not built for this kind of election. They simply don’t have the staff or computers or systems to handle the massive number of new voters.
Which leads to the question of whether they can handle election day. If 80 percent turn out, 80 percent of the new unprecedented numbers, do we have enough machines and poll workers to handle it? If we can’t handle the input of voter data, can we handle it when they come to the polls?
There will not only be more people, but probably confusion because of the number of first time voters. Just by nature there will have been data entry errors that could cause a massive number of provisional ballots. Errors and provisional ballots require more (and better) poll workers to step away from the tables, slowing down lines.
And slow lines mean some people will walk away, needing to get to work after lunch or to pick up a kid at school. And that means people will not vote.
Large turnout also requires more machines on which to vote. Most counties have a few extra machines, but not many. They can’t deploy them because surplus machines might be needed in the event of breakdowns. This could mean that there are not enough voting machines — regardless of your position on their quality and verifiability — to handle a blow-out election.
The only way we can combat this is to vote by absentee ballot, as many of us as possible. If you don’t go to the polls, that’s one less person in line to slow things down. If you get 10 neighbors to vote absentee, that’s an even larger improvement to the process.
New Jersey now has no-fault early voting, where just concerns over the quality of our machines is enough to get an absentee ballot. Hell, you don’t even need a reason.
But ensuring that every vote gets counted, that people are not frustrated into walking away from their vote, is vitally important.
So do your county, state and country a favor. Vote absentee.
ABSENTEE BALLOT APPLICATION
LIST OF COUNTY CLERKS