In a previous post, I noted the needless confusion and outright misinformation about who can vote in NJ’s February 5th Presidential Primary. The correct answer is that upwards of 99.95 percent of citizens who were registered to vote as of January 15, 2008 CAN vote, whether they’re already members of the Democratic or Republican parties (about 40 percent of voters) – or if they are currently “unaffiliated” (not members of any party, about 60 percent of all voters). The only exceptions are registered members of the Green, Libertarian or a few other alternative parties, which combined represent a tiny fraction of a percent of the electorate.
So what will happen when you, the voter, walk into your regular polling place on February 5th? What if you’re not already a Democrat or a Republican? If you are currently unaffiliated, what hoops will you have to jump through to “declare” a party affiliation? To find out, I decided to attend a poll worker training class held this evening in Hopewell Township, conducted by the Mercer County Board of Elections.
Short answer: It’s pretty much like voting in any other election. You go to your usual polling location. The poll workers look in the poll book where you sign in to see if there’s a “DEM” or “REP” printed above the block where you sign. If so, DEMs get to vote the Democratic ballot; REPs get to vote the Republican ballot.
If the space for your party affiliation is blank, they simply ask you: Democrat or Republican? You answer with one or the other. They fill in the blank. You vote accordingly.
That’s it. No fuss. No bother. No forms to fill out. You vote. And then you leave, knowing that you’ve taken part in the first Presidential Primary Election ever where NJ voters had a real say in the outcome.