Voters Give Voice To This Year’s Unique Election Process

Lavallette resident Ken Trimmer drops off his ballot into the drop box in front of the Upper Shores branch of the Ocean County Library in Lavallette. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

TOMS RIVER – Recently, the township’s branch of the Ocean County Library saw a continuing cycle of voters going inside, picking up ballot materials and exiting the branch to drop off their ballots in the drop box out front.

  The Ocean County Clerk Election Services staff has been providing in-person help in Mancini Hall at the Ocean County Library at 101 Washington St., Toms River.

Photo by Jason Allentoff

  Others stopped to drop their filled-out ballots into the drop box that is on the sidewalk in front of the library. All were well aware that the 2020 general election is just days away.

  Ocean County voters who need assistance with vote-by-mail ballots can also access help through the Ocean County Clerk Election Services staff in the days leading up to and including November 3. Many county residents have mixed feelings about how this year’s election is being conducted with primarily voting by mail due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  “I’m not really happy about it,” Susan Rosko of Waretown said. “I’m not real happy about having the mail-in voting. I like the way it used to be. I am very concerned.”

  Her husband George Rosko added, “It is messed up. I like the other way better. There is no reason why we had to do it this way. We can go to grocery stores.”

  His wife finished his sentiment saying, “we could have done it for voting. We could have waited in line if we had to. We’re still hoping our guy will win.”

  Not everyone felt that way however. “We have the coronavirus so you have to take precautions. It is America and we should make voting easy instead of suppressing it. I’m a history professor at a college. The tragedy of America is that 50% or less vote in our so-called Democratic Republic. That is a tragedy and maybe mail-in ballots will help people to get out and vote. If we don’t vote we lose our democracy,” Herb Germann of Toms River said after he dropped off his ballot in the drop box.

  When asked if he would be happy when the current election process would be over he responded, “I’ll be happy when this whole administration is over. It has been crazy and the attacks on the media, the ugliness, the division, Americans are tired of it.”

  After dropping off his ballot in the drop box Brian Pitcher of Lakewood described this year’s election as “chaos. I do not trust this system. I will be happy when this election cycle is over.”

  Some did not wish to share their names when asked for comment. One young man remarked that “it is a strange environment but it is what it is. He added that mail in systems are “used all over the world so I can’t imagine it is a problem. I think things can be better. I will totally be glad when this election is over.”

Ocean County Board of Election workers provide in person assistance as they receive ballots coming in from the public at a center in a county building that previously housed the Mana Grill in Toms River. Ballots were dropped off there and at 17 Ocean County drop boxes prior to Election Day on November 3. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  Christine Pasinski of Toms River dropped off her ballot in front of the library and said this year’s election “was crazy. I’m 68 years old and I voted every year and this is crazy. Besides the pandemic we are going through a crazy election. I don’t trust this. I’m hoping it will be alright. I do like to go to vote in person and we’ll see what will happen.”

  Like everyone interviewed she added, “I can’t wait for it to be over. The election to be over and the pandemic to be over just everything.”

  Gail Palecki, also of Toms River described this year’s election as “a mess. I think I would have rather gone to the machine and got it done and over with. You hear all kinds of stories of these boxes being damaged and that kind of worries me but hopefully it won’t happen here.”

  She said she’d also be happy when the election period was over.

  Another anonymous voter from Toms River said his feeling about the election was, “the same as I have with all of them. This is the first year to do it this way. Yes, I will be happy when the election is over. It is too much. Too much.”

  Toms River resident Mayer Rosen said of the election, “I am very excited to vote. I’m concerned about (the voting system) but it is what it is. I will be happy when it is over.”

  On Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, voters can obtain a replacement vote-by-mail ballot by completing an affidavit, vote the ballot in a privacy booth and deposit the ballot in a secure drop box all in person at the Ocean County Southern Service Center, 179 South Main St., Manahawkin. The Ocean County Clerk’s Election Services Staff will be available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 to assist with the ballots.

  Ocean County Freeholder Deputy Director Gary Quinn said “The County Clerk staff will be available at the Ocean County Southern Service Center in Stafford Township to assist registered voters who may need to obtain a vote-by-mail ballot, whether because they did not receive one, they lost their ballot, made a mistake on the ballot, tore, defaced it or incorrectly marked the ballot.”

  Quinn is the liaison to the Ocean County Clerk and noted that the Clerk’s Office at the Southern Service Center will also be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Nov. 2 and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Election Day, Nov. 3 to assist with vote-by-mail ballots.

  “The second location will provide convenient access to assistance for our voters in the southern part of the County. Since the 2020 General Election is primarily vote-by-mail due to changes in state law, we have been addressing a number of issues and concerns raised by our voters. Having staff available gives them an opportunity to correct problems with their ballot and assures them their vote will be counted,” Quinn added.

  Registered voters from the following towns can get vote-by-mail ballot assistance at the Southern Service Center: Barnegat Light, Barnegat Township, Beach Haven, Eagleswood Township, Harvey Cedars, Lacey Township, Little Egg Harbor Township, Long Beach Township, Ocean Township, Ship Bottom, Stafford Township, Surf City and Tuckerton.

This ballot box located on the third floor of the parking garage next to the Administrative Building in Toms River is one of 17 available for your ballot in Ocean County for the upcoming general election. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  “Do not delay returning your ballot to the Ocean County Board of Elections,” advised Ocean County Freeholder Virginia E. Haines, who serves as liaison to the Board of Elections.

  She said Ocean County voters have several options for returning the vote-by-mail ballot. Completed ballots can be dropped into any one of 17 secure drop boxes that have been set up in safe locations throughout the county.

  A complete list is available on the Ocean County webpage at co.ocean.nj.us.

 The majority of the locations for the secure drop boxes are outside branches of the Ocean County Library and other public buildings. The deadline for placing your ballot in one of the secure drop boxes is 8 p.m., Nov. 3.

  “The drop box locations are under 24-hour security surveillance monitored by the County,” Haines said. “We are encouraging voters to not wait until Election Day to drop off their ballot at a polling place.”

  Voters can also mail in their ballots using the prepaid envelope, or drop it off at the Ocean County Board of Elections Office, 129 Hooper Ave., Toms River.

  While there will be a limited number of polling places open on Election Day, only people with disabilities will be able to access and vote on a voting machine at an assigned polling location. Anyone else going to the polls can either drop off the vote-by-mail ballot or will have to vote a paper provisional ballot which will not be counted until after Nov. 10 when all the vote-by-mail ballots have been counted.

Voters seeking additional information are also encouraged to visit the Ocean County Clerk website at oceancountyclerk.com and click on the View Nov. 3 General Election Information link or visit the Clerk’s Facebook page at facebook.com/oceancountyclerk. There are instructional videos and important links for specific election information.

  The Ocean County Board of Elections can be reached by calling (732) 929-2167.