First, my congratulations to Mayor-Elect Peter Cammarano and Council-Elect Carol Marsh, Ravi Bhalla, and David Mello on running well organized and effective campaigns. I look forward to each of them working together to make Hoboken even better.
Secondly, I want to address the concerns over absentee ballots which gained so much attention after the June 12th Election. Originally absentee ballots in New Jersey were established to allow citizens who were unable to vote on Election Day an alternative method to cast their ballots. To increase voter participation, New Jersey now allows anyone to vote by absentee ballot. The New Jersey Department of State, Divisions of Election’s website says: “In New Jersey, any voter can now vote by Absentee Ballot for any election. You do not need a reason to vote by Absentee Ballot. Don’t feel like going to the polls? Simply vote by mail. Now there is ‘no excuse’ not to vote!” In today’s busy world, New Jersey has made voting easy to fit into every citizen’s busy schedule.
Strict regulations and oversight are in place to safeguard a citizen’s right to vote. Anyone assisting the voter or serving as a bearer on an absentee ballot must sign and write his or her name on the ballot. Additionally, all absentee ballots are inspected by each member of the county’s Board of Elections while a Deputy Attorney General from the state observes. Also, Certified Challengers from each campaign can challenge the integrity of an absentee ballot. Only after all this can an absentee ballot is counted.
Absentee Ballots are a legitimate alternative method of voting. Every campaign, local and national, utilizes absentee ballots to encourage voting. Both Hoboken Mayoral Campaigns had programs designed to encourage absentee voting among those citizens who were unlikely to vote at the polls.
I was concerned reading Dr. Jonathan Metsch letter in last week’s Hoboken Reporter. In his letter Dr. Metsch makes many unfounded claims supported by baseless suspicions. He accuses “persons unknown” of serving as bearers of absentee ballots and suggests that these “persons unknown” did something wrong. First, every bearer has his name on each absentee ballot he or she handled. Second, when the bearer delivers the absentee ballot to the Hudson County Board of Elections, he or she must sign into the absentee ballot log book.
If Dr. Metsch wants to solve the mystery of these “persons unknown” he can go to the Hudson County Board of Election. All the names are clearly listed in the absentee ballot log book.
I served as General Counsel to the Cammarano for Mayor Campaign. I also served as a Certified Challenger while the absentee ballots were being examined by the Hudson County Board of Elections. Ms. Zimmer’s attorneys, Alex Booth and Elise DeNardo, also examined each absentee ballot. Along with two Deputy Attorney Generals from the State, I watched as all the procedures were followed by the Board of Elections. With attorneys from both campaigns, two Deputy Attorney General, and four members of the Hudson County Board of Elections, there is no question in my mind that every vote was properly counted.
I welcome any investigation into the Absentee Ballots. In my opinion, all the procedures were followed to the letter of the law.