Inside early voting in Bayonne

Officials said new electronic voting machines make the process 'quick and easy'

Early voting is now available to New Jersey residents for the first time in history.

In Hudson County, there are a total of 10 early voting locations. In Bayonne, the five early voting machines were placed inside the council chambers at City Hall from Oct. 23 to 31. City Halls were chosen due to the secure locations and the convenience of city clerks’ offices in the same buildings.

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Early voting in Bayonne

The early voting process in Bayonne is easy. First, voters enter City Hall at 630 Avenue C. Health department staff takes down their information, their temperature, and other information prior to entry as part of COVID-19 mitigation protocols.

Then the voters walk straight ahead into the council chambers. Poll workers are jubilant and charming, answering any questions voters may have with ease and passion.

Voters are guided to a desk where they are asked to input their name, address, and other basic information into a tablet, which is the electronic poll book. If they are a registered voter, the voter’s registration will come up and they will sign on the tablet before a paper voter activation card will be printed. Voters can also have their New Jersey driver’s license scanned to automatically input their information and bring up their voter registration.

Residents can vote at any location in the county regardless of where they live. There is a database for the county which allows the electronic poll books to access anyone in the county.  

Voters input their information to receive their voter activation card.

Once the voter activation card is printed, the voter heads over to one of the voting machines and inserts the paper card. The electronic voting machine identifies the voter’s district and ward through the voter activation card before the machine creates a ballot.

Voters can cast their votes in English or Spanish, and the completed ballot is printed and stored in the machine as a backup, in case of a recount. The process can take as little as a few minutes before voters have cast their ballot and are on their way.

Successful first rollout

According to Isabella D’Alessandro, a Bayonne resident and the Super Board Worker in charge of overseeing early voting at City Hall, everything has been a success for the first session ever. D’Alessandro said residents have lauded the early voting process as being quick and easy. She added that there has been a good turnout as of Thursday, Oct. 28, more than halfway through the process. 

“We had a turn out of 600 plus voters come to early voting,” D’Alessandro said. “A lot of them like the new machines. It makes the process so much faster than it was before.” 

Early voting is being held at City Hall at 630 Avenue C.

Hudson County rolled out new electronic voting machines and electronic poll books from Election Systems and Software (ES&S) coinciding with the early voting. According to D’Alessandro, the voting process is faster than normal due to the electronic poll books. 

“Usually they only have two large books,” D’Alessandro said. “So based on your last name, you’d have a big long line and you can only wait for that one certain book.” 

Now there are five electronic poll books and five electronic voting machines. It is not only easier for the voter, but for the poll workers as well.

“Every single person has had nothing but good things to say about the machines,” D’Alessandro said. 

This is her first time working for an election, but after the positive experience, she said she would work at any other election again. 

Old machines on Election Day

And while these new voting machines are here for early voting, they will not be back on Election Day itself. According to D’Alessandro, the electronic poll books will still be here, but there will only be two older voting machines present instead of the five newer electronic machines. 

Electronic poll books make early voting easier.

“On Election Day, they will have the new poll books but they will have the old machines, so everyone will know how to use them,” D’Alessandro said. “That’s not going to be anything that the voters who didn’t come to early voting are going to have a hard time with.” 

And while the new machines won’t be present, the electronic poll books will likely speed up the process in the same way that they did for early voting. D’Alessandro said: “They are going to have the tablets, so it’s going to make it easier to process voters.” 

The new voting machines will make a return the next time there is early voting, however. And there are plans to implement the new voting machines on Election Day in the future. 

“There’s not as many polling stations during early voting, so they have enough machines to cover, unlike the regular timed election,” D’Alessandro said. “They don’t have enough machines yet to cover the entire county.” 

Early voting is available on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Get out and vote

Overall, D’Alessandro applauded the early voting process and encouraged those who can to do so.

“It’s really easy to use the machines,” D’Alessandro said. “It’s really intuitive and I think everyone should come to early voting.” 

On the ballot in Bayonne on Nov. 2 is a school board election as well as others at the county and state levels.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com. 

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