Hudson County Board of Elections clerk says he expects voter turnout to exceed 2016

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Hudson County Board of Elections Clerk Michael Harper says that when all ballots are tallied, he expects to slightly exceed the voter turnout of 223,222 from 2016.

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By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Thus far, the board of elections has counted between 165,000 to 170,000 ballots after receiving 175,000 to 180,000 as of early this morning, Harper told HCV.

“We’re doing our damndest to ensure we have the most possible ballots counted by the end of the night,” he added, noting that he expects to tally around 200,000 before his office heads home tonight.

While the task is a daunting one, the office is well prepared: with 150 on staff today, as opposed to the usual 15, and with the ability to start counting ballots on October 24th thanks to an order signed by Gov. Phil Murphy (D).

Murphy decided to make this election primarily contested via vote-by-mail ballots, just as he did with the July 7th primary, to alleviate the spread of the coronavirus.

Nevertheless, Harper emphasized that voters that wish to vote provisionally in person can still head to their respective polling locations, with voting machines set aside strictly for the handicapped.

“Provisionals are a big one: it’s sort of an unknown. The most interesting thing to watch today will be to see who goes to a polling place to drop off their vote-by-mail ballot. It’s a lot quicker and we’ll be able to count them a lot sooner that way,” Harper stated.

To that end, drop boxes can still be utilized until 8 p.m. – the same time that the polls close.

Overall, he’s expecting turnout to surpass that from 2016 but a slight margin, explaining that it probably would have been by an even wider margin if it was a traditional election with more voting in person.

The Record reported yesterday that Hunterdon County had the best vote-by-mail turnout, while Hudson County had the worst.

The top of the ballot is of course headlined by the presidential contest pitting incumbent Donald Trump (R) against former Vice President Joe Biden (D), but there are still a few local races of interest.

The Bayonne Board of Education race has nine candidates seeking three, three-year terms, with the “Together We Can” team headed by Board President Maria Valado and Vice President Christopher Munoz.

They are joined by fellow educator and musician David “Doc” Watson.

Meanwhile, Trustee Michael Alonso is running with fellow Bayonne Republicans Michael Shatravka and Charles Shepard under the “Make Bayonne Great Again” banner.

Finally, the race is rounded out with former Trustee Charles Ryan running with newcomer Andrew Kim and Denis Wilbeck, Jr., the son of current Trustee Denis Wilbeck, Sr. Their team slogan is “Responsibility, Integrity & Care.”

As for Jersey City, the latest version of the “Education Matters” slate features Board President Lorenzo Richardson, Vice President Gina Verdibello, and Trustee Lekendrick Shaw.

They will go head-to-head with the “Change for Children” team, which consists of Asheenia Johnson, Sonia Cintron, and Karen Poliski. The six candidates are vying for three, three-year terms on the board.

Additionally, Ward D voters have the ability to select their council representative, currently occupied by Yousef Saleh, who was appointed in April after the late Michael Yun succumbed to complications from the coronavirus.

He faces competition in Leonard Gordon Park Conservancy Founder and President Patrick Ambrossi, attorney and activist Cynthia Hadjiyannis, retired firefighter Rafael Torres, and first time candidate Lenny Lambert.

There is also a ballot question in Jersey City, allowing voters to decide if the city should establish an arts and culture trust fund, an initiative backed by Mayor Steven Fulop.

Furthermore, voters throughout the state will be able to decide if they support marijuana legalization.

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