Report on voter woes in Bergen County NJ

Here are details of the report I sent in about voting issues here in Bergen County, NJ to Our Vote Live, set up by Craig Newmark (of Craig’s List) and other civic rights advocates to protect voter’s rights and make sure the conservatives don’t get away with suppressing people’s voting rights in this pivotal election. If you become aware of any voting issues, please make your own report.

Hundreds wait to vote in person at Bergen County Clerk Nov 4 2012
Hundreds wait to vote in person at Bergen County Clerk Nov 4 2012
The Bergen County Clerk this afternoon remarked that State issued a new and confusing Directive just yesterday (Saturday). Apparently, County Clerks all over the state asked all week for a Directive to be issued.

Its late issuance and wording have created quite a bit of ambiguity, and confusion, including:

•Displaced voters can vote by email or fax, but “displaced voter” is not defined and no fax numbers or email addresses are given.
•It’s unclear if messengers who bring in ballots for voters can exceed the 10 ballots per person limitation. A Bergen County Democratic HQ representative says that only specifically County Clerk designated “super messengers” can exceed the 10 ballot limit.
•Some statements say that provisional ballots will be given out even at polling places that have been closed. The accuracy of this statement is not clear. Why provisional ballots?
•Voters in Fair Lawn and other cities are being told: if you are in District X, now you must vote in District Y. But addresses for neither polling location are being given. People don’t know their district by heart.
•People are being told to go vote early at the County offices but the County Clerk’s office that generates ballots after on-site voters hand in Vote By Mail Applications (the deadline for which has been extended through 11/5 or 6) don’t have enough computer stations to process a high volume of applications. When my family was there around 1:30pm today (Sun) the wait time was about 2 hours and there were less than 200 people on line – see photos below. Imagine if there were thousands of people queued up.
•Voters are being misdirected to text “Where” to 877877 which provides automated responses giving – OLD polling places
•The State website misdirects people to the same incorrect (OLD) polling places http://www.nj.gov/state/elections/index.html. I called the State Division of Election Office today and complained about this. The rep I spoke with told me that polling place locations are changing on a daily basis so they cannot publish an updated list and that people should contact their local County Clerk of Board of Election Office for correct locations. I said that in that case, the State should remove the two links that both produce the same incorrect polling location results (see screenshot below). I tested both links plus the 877877 text number with a valid address in the 3rd Ward of Englewood and all three directed me to a polling location that is no longer in use for this election.
Please note that in the Div of Elections screenshots below, you can see that the website was changed – the link below the two links to polling locations was deleted (it directed back to the Election Division’s landing page) since I began writing this statement. But, instructions to check with the County Clerk for polling location was not changed.

Minority language note for information I’ve provided both above and below this note

•As if it were not enough that information is sparse, decisions have been made and publicized too late and the available information is not always clear, there are several large immigrant populations in this area (including Hispanic and Korean) and the full extent of the changes made are not being communicated either Spanish or Korean.

Other Voter Troubles

•This morning, a NJ State assemblywoman told me that when she arrived at the Bergen County Building last week to vote and asked a Sheriff’s Department officer on duty if the County Clerk’s Office was open for voting, he told her that it wasn’t. She decided to go inside and check for herself, and of course the office was open. Early voting restrictions were eased last week and in-person voting extended, earlier than the balance of the directives issued on Saturday 11/3.
•In Englewood, 4th Ward residents are all being made to vote outside their Ward in the 3rd Ward, in a filthy building that hasn’t been cleaned since July, is currently uninhabited and appears not to be lit. 4th Ward is poorest and Blackest ward with 3500 registered voters, 4 districts and quite a few elderly residents & residents with cars. There is a voting place in the 4th Ward which never lost power but people aren’t being allowed to use it (First Baptist Church on Englewood Avenue). There is a question whether this measure is being taken to give advantage to a candidate not popular with 4th Ward residents; he is the only candidate in the city with an opponent (who happens to be a popular community figure in that ward).
Please note that polling places were also temporarily changed in Englewood in April 2012 and many people could not vote in the Board of Education Elections held then because they didn’t know where to vote. The Superintendent of Schools announced in a public meeting that the polling place had not been changed.
•Several friends and I, all Bergen County, New Jersey, residents, did not receive sample ballots for this election. We do not know how widespread this omission is. An Englewood community activist points out that some people, especially the elderly, depend on sample ballots to inform their voting choices.

News Source Links

  • http://thewei.com/kimi/special-voting-arrangements-in-new-jersey-for-2012-election/
  • http://t.news.msn.com/politics/christie-orders-early-voting-fax-email-votes-accepted
  • http://fortlee.patch.com/articles/county-relocates-153-polling-stations-in-36-towns?ncid=newsltuspatc00000003#comment_5335568
  • http://nj.gov/state/elections/2012-results/signed-directive-hurricane-sandy-110212.pdf
  • http://www.nj.gov/state/elections/index.html

Also see Special New Jersey voting options for 2012 election

Supporting photos and screenshots

3 Replies to “Report on voter woes in Bergen County NJ”

  1. 11/05/12 I too have not received a sample ballot for Englewood NJ.  2 Weeks ago, the news was saying that to take advantage of the usually large voter turn out for the Presidential election, the county, city, ward, put a lot of items on the ballot–so the ballot would be very crowded and possibly confusing.  I came here to looking to find a sample ballot, to be prepared.
    Your info is interesting and discouraging.
    I hope we can find a sample ballot, let alone which polling places are open–or where the new ones are.
    Thank You.

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