Voters could have cast their ballot for mayor and all five seats on the city council as part of three days of early voting offered from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on May 6 and 7, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 8. There was no voting on May 9, and regular voting commenced on Election Day on May 10 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Bayonne Community News walked through the process of early voting on May 7 to check out its ease and effectiveness.
Walking through the process
There were temporary parking spaces allowed in front of City Hall for voters to utilize for early voting, which were essential given the rain on May 6 and 7. However, the spots were all taken as a number of people were already inside and into the process.
After finding a spot around the block, early voting was just inside the main entrance to City Hall in the council chambers. The early voting was staffed by poll workers employed by the Hudson County Board of Elections, and were present at the door to guide voters through the process from the start.
At the center of the council chambers, voters proceeded to a table where they were asked for their name and address. For the early voting, the new Election Systems and Software (ES&S) electronic voting machines and poll books were used again, first employed by the county for the 2021 General Election.
A poll worker input the aforementioned information into a tablet, better known as an electronic poll book, and then confirmed the voter’s identity. The voter then signed the tablet with a stylus and were given a voter activation card.
The stylus seemed to be the new “souvenir” akin to the stickers that are often given out on Election Day after voting. Sometimes, if a voter has not voted in a while, they were asked for identification to further verify that they were who they say they were before going forward, something witnessed by BCN on May 7.
The voter then signed the activation card given to them just before presenting to another poll worker at the voting machine. Once the card was handed off to the poll worker, the voter moved aside the curtain and headed inside the electronic voting machine to make their choice.
The electronic voting machine identified the voter’s district and ward through the voter activation card before the machine created a ballot. Following the selection of the candidates they wanted to cast their ballot for, voters were given a chance to review their choices.
Voters then pressed one more button to confirm their vote before the ballot is cast, and they were on their way. Each completed ballot was printed and stored in the electronic voting machine in case of a recount.
Coffee, bagels, donuts, and other snacks and refreshments were available in the lobby outside of the municipal chambers for workers and voters. Overall, early voting was speedy and efficient.
Assessing voter turnout
While at City Hall, the BCN also spoke to Kamei Harris, a Super Poll Worker overseeing the early voting. Harris said that, as of the second day of early voting at approximately 11 a.m. on May 7, there had been 322 ballots cast.
Harris told BCN the early voting was a good thing provided to give voters more opportunities to participate. According to Harris, voters generally seemed happy that they could cast their vote ahead of time and not have to worry about timing conflicts.
“People feel satisfied that they have a couple days in advance to come and vote instead of being pressured to vote on Election Day,” Harris said.
And in terms of those who came in to vote, Harris described them as being a “diverse group.” An array of people of all ages and backgrounds consist of the hundreds of voters who took advantage of early voting.
Harris said the process had not had any issues and went off without a hitch. Overall, the early voting experience in Bayonne was pleasant and brief, and a helpful addition to the democratic process. The voting was likely to be a future staple, as long as the city council passed an ordinance to authorize it ahead of the municipal election.
On the way to early voting, BCN spotted a video truck broadcasting an ad for City Council President and mayoral candidate Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski a few blocks away on Broadway. She and her slate were facing off against incumbent Mayor James Davis and his slate, and doctor and lawyer Mitchell Brown with no slate, in addition to other independent council candidates who tossed their hat in the ring. Suffice to say, the municipal election was reaching a fever pitch, as some voters had already cast their ballot.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.