Bayonne has authorized early voting before the May 10 municipal election.
A recent state law has authorized early voting for municipal elections, but in order for the city to partake, it must have first passed an ordinance. The City Council adopted such an ordinance at its March meeting.
According to City Clerk Madelene Medina, the early voting will run for three days prior to the election. That means it will take place on May 6, 7, and 8.
There will be no voting on Monday, May 9. Then, normal voting will occur on Election Day, May 10.
According to Medina, the city will use the new voting machines and equipment implemented by the county during the last election. Mail-in ballots will also be sent out to all approximately 40,000 registered voters in Bayonne.
Bayonne held early voting for the first time ever for the General Election in November of 2020. However, that was for a period of seven days as opposed to the three days that will be available in May.
Location in the works
Medina said a location for the voting has not been confirmed yet.
“Once this passes, and I do the ballot drawing, I will have a conversation with the county,” Medina said. She hopes to have a location secured by next week. Tentatively, the early voting will likely be at the Public Library at 697 Avenue C, with the idea that it is centrally located in the city and a previous polling place.
“It has to be a centrally located place,” City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski said. “It can’t be near a police station. And it won’t be in school because schools will be in session.”
Polling places need to be in an intimidation-free location, meaning it can’t be near a police station, Medina confirmed. That also means it can’t be at City Hall due to proximity to the adjoining police headquarters, as well as the fact that it’s a municipal election.
“Our goal is to keep it on bus lines,” Medina said, noting the library is along bus lines on Avenue C. “There’s parking at the library, too. So it kind of opens it up that you can park or take the bus to vote.”
With the approval of the ordinance, $10,000 will be allocated from the City Clerk’s election budget to fund the early voting. In response to resident questions if the early voting was required, Medina said it was not.
“For municipal elections no,” Medina said. “For Primary and General elections, yes. They’re run by the state.”
Council in favor
The council was mostly in favor of the ordinance.
“I’m all about giving people every opportunity to vote,” said Ashe-Nadrowski, a candidate for mayor in the upcoming election.
In response to resident questions about election security, she added: “The election system is secure, there’s nothing wrong with allowing as many people to participate as possible. If this allows more people to participate, then this is what we should do.”
“I believe in giving everybody all the opportunity they can. If it’s possible they can’t make it on Tuesday, they can go on the weekend,” said Third Ward City Councilman Gary La Pelusa.
“This provides the best opportunity for the most amount of people to get involved in city government,” First Ward City Councilman Neil Carroll said.
The council adopted the ordinance 4-1, with Second Ward City Councilman Sal Gullace voting against the measure.
“I don’t think we need early voting,” Gullace said. “As long as you knock on the doors and meet the residents, you’ll be fine.”
Municipalities on board
Bayonne joins Union City and Weehawken in allowing early voting in their municipalities ahead of upcoming May elections. So far, candidates running in the municipal elections include Mayor James Davis, Ashe-Nadrowski, and Dr. Mitchell Brown.
For the City Council, Davis has announced a slate consisting of Carroll, La Pelusa, Second Ward City Council candidate Jacqueline Weimmer, City Councilman At-Large Juan Perez, and City Council At-Large candidate Loyad Booker. On Team Ashe-Nadrowski is First Ward City Council candidate Julie Sanchez Lynch, Second Ward City Council candidate George Vinc, Third Ward City Council candidate and Bayonne Board of Education President Maria Valado, City Council At-Large candidate and Board of Education Trustee Jodi Casais, and City Council At-Large candidate “KT” Kim Torello.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at email@example.com.