As the weather got cooler and decorations for Halloween were up, voters went to Jersey City’s early voting stations operated by Hudson County during the new early voting period, with poll workers and other officials on hand to oversee the process.
The early voting was enabled by a state voting rights law that was signed by Gov. Phil Murphy. Voters were provided a nine day period from Oct. 23 to 31 to cast an early vote in-person for the numerous elections taking place in the state, including the state governor’s election and the many municipal races throughout Hudson County.
“Everybody likes the early voting,” said Magda Elsayed, a poll worker. ”I saw so many young people voting, everybody loves the new voting machines, and it’s convenient for many people.”
Elysayed and Stephanie Bonelli were two first time poll workers overseeing the early voting at Jersey City City Hall on Oct. 29, where in the lower level of City Hall, voters streamed downstairs to cast their votes. As voters, including a few in Halloween costumes, walked out with “I Voted” stickers, Elysayed and Bonelli were around with tablets to provide surveys and gather feedback on the early voting process.
Poll workers were also provided pay for taking on the job, which Bonelli took as an opportunity. “I was just looking for some temporary work from doing educational courses online,” she said “While I’m doing my courses online, this seemed like something I could do temporarily for some money.”
Jersey City had four early voting stations throughout the city, including City Hall, the Pershing Field Community Center, the Hank Gallo Community Center at Lincoln Park, and the Moose Lodge. With new digital voting machines and polling books, registered voters in Hudson County could go to any voting station within the county for early voting, regardless of where they live.
John Dineen, Administrative Analyst at the Hudson County Clerk’s Office, said that with anything new, there’s going to be hiccups with the process, including using new technology.
“There were issues, but luckily the governor gave us enough heads up and we were able to roll out the resources from the state and the county,” he said. “With the leadership above, we were able to have a trickle down effect that really resulted in what you see here today.”
Dineen said that they purchased 150 of the new voting machines with the state-allocated funds. While the county will be going back to the old machines for Election Day, he said that they see the early voting period as a test pilot program, and their goal is to have the new machines available for all future elections in the county.