JERSEY CITY - This week registered voters in Jersey City received their sample ballots for the April 17 Board of Education election and several downtown residents who were recently redistricted from Ward E to Ward F said they received an unpleasant surprise. Three residents called The Reporter to complain that their polling places have been moved. In some cases polling places have moved some 20 blocks or one mile away from the residents' old polling locations. Another resident, who lives downtown but who was not affected by redistricting, said some of her neighbors complained to her about this very same issue.
As a result of the 2010 U.S. Census several Jersey City municipal wards had to be redrawn so that the city's six wards were roughly equal in population size. Since Jersey City has experienced most of its population growth in downtown's Ward E, several Ward E residents had to be shifted into neighboring wards. Approximately 40 city blocks - and about 6,840 residents - were shifted from Ward E into Ward F.
When the city's redistricting plan was completed in February, former Ward E residents were specifically told at a public hearing that their polling locations would not move, or if they did their new polling sites would not be further away from their homes than their old polling locations. But residents say this isn't the case.
"For the past 11 years that I've lived here I've been able to walk to my polling station, which was the elementary school behind Ferris High School, which is basically two blocks away from my house. I'm now being forced to make my way to 111 Tuers Ave. and wherever that may be, it's not walking distance," Van Vorst resident Oona Jackson Moore told the Reporter last week. "I think this is further discouragement for downtown residents in voting."
Other residents who live on Jersey Avenue, also downtown, are now being told to vote at the Martin Luther King Jr. School (P.S. 11), located at 886 Bergen Ave.
One resident said she hopes these polling assignments are not permanent and are changed before the upcoming voting season. In June, New Jersey residents are scheduled to vote in the Democratic and Republican primaries and the general election, including the race for president, is coming up in November. Next May Jersey City residents will go to the polls for elect a nine new City Council representatives and a new mayor. - E. Assata Wright