Tag Archives: general election

Why vote?

The following is written by Paul Barudin, LWVNJ Intern

Why do I vote? It’s a funny thing actually. Considering that up until rather recently in my life I was very jaded about the idea of voting. Like most people I’m sure that the answer is multifaceted, but I’ll try to bring it down to its base parts.

I voted in the presidential election of 2012. I was a sophomore in college at the time, and had to send in my vote via absentee ballet. At the time, it was something of a chore, a nuisance, mostly because I was worried about more immediate issues like tests and socializing. Voting had never been a real part of my life up until then. Even when I had turned 18, I didn’t educate myself on when I could vote, who the candidates were, or even when the next election was.

And I don’t think that I really understood the importance or impact of my vote until a few days later, when I was invited to a SU Republican and Democrat party to watch as the votes were tallied and the states were won.

As an unaffiliated voter, I wasn’t prepared for the partisanship of the party. Elephants and Donkey shaped cookies, banners of the respective candidates on the walls, my peers wearing t-shirts with candidate slogans emblazoned on their chests. It was all a little overwhelming to say the least. I’d never seen this many people get so riled up about something so far away, and yet so familiar. The buzz of energy in the air is thick, and with each state won, respective students from each side cheered and sighed. And looking at them made me realize that my opinion (that people, youth especially) were all tired/jaded by politics was wrong. I got to see a different part of my generation. And it was an eye opening experience.

I think the reason I vote, the main reason, is as a reminder to myself to have compassion. Yes, I vote for those who will move towards actions I care for, but it’s more than that. Voting is important, a civic duty. It is a physical way to show I care about things, my state, my country, and the world. Voting is a way I can show myself that I don’t just think a big game. That I commit to those thoughts, and that I follow through.

Why I Vote

The following is written by Liz Huang, LWVNJ intern.

Liz HuangGrowing up, I remember learning about the extensive history of voting in the United States in my classes, and watching the adults around me vote in the general and primary elections. However, one of my most vivid voting memories was the first time I actively contributed to the voting process. At the time, I was only a sophomore in high school.

In 2008, through a United States history class I was taking, my classmates and I became student volunteers for the local League of Women Voters of New Jersey in our town. I was almost 16 years old, and I went to senior classrooms with my peers to help senior high school students complete their Voter Registration forms. Our goal was to register as many seniors at our high school to vote for the 2008 Presidential Election that was just around the corner. It was a great experience being able to engage and contribute to the overall voting process, especially during a Presidential Election year.

When I turned 18 years old in the end of 2010, I had just missed Election Day by a few weeks. It was disappointing, but in the grand scheme of things, it was eye opening to realize that I would be able to cast my vote in all future elections beginning in 2011.

I vote because I want to assert what I believe in and make a difference. Voting allows me to express my personal opinion on issues that affect everyone: education, health services, environmental issues, etc.

I highly encourage every individual to exercise their right to vote! And as often as they can. There are plenty of nonpartisan resources available to engage and empower voters to make informed decisions. If you cannot vote in person on an Election Day, there is always the option to vote via a “Vote by Mail Application.” Every opinion- younger and older generations alike- matters. Go out there and let your voice be heard. Make a difference.

Civics 101: Voting

The following blog post was written by Vishali Gandhi, LWVNJ summer intern.

The United States was founded upon principles of democratic government and freedoms, among them the right to vote for representatives in government. However, voting was not always universal. Voting rights were initially reserved for only white, property-owning males, but as the country grew and progressed, suffrage (the right to vote) expanded to include non-land owners, people of color, and women. While requirements to register differ according to state, in order to vote in New Jersey you must be a citizen of the U.S., 18 years of age by the time of the election, a resident of NJ for at least 30 days prior to the election, and you cannot be serving time in jail or on probation or parole for a felony.

In order to register to vote, you must complete a Voter Application form and either mail it or hand it in to either the Commissioner of Registration or Superintendent of EVotelections, depending on your county. You can check to see if you are registered and where you are registered through the Division of Elections website, or by calling your county’s Commissioner of Registration or Superintendent of Elections. You must register to vote at least 21 days before the date of the election in order to participate in that election.

General elections, including elections for the President, Governor, members of Congress, state legislators, and some county and municipal officials, are scheduled for the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November during a year in which an election is due. Primary elections, during which parties nominate a candidate to run during the general election, are held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in June. New Jersey has closed primary elections, meaning that only voters who have registered with a party may vote in that party’s primary election (party affiliation can be declared when initially registering to vote on the Voter Registration form or can be declared or changed by filling out a Party Affiliation Change form). Municipal elections are generally held with the General Elections. However, some municipalities hold nonpartisan elections (in which officials do not affiliate with a particular party) on the second Tuesday in May.

The process of voting is relatively simple: once you enter the voting booth, you will see a screen on which there are options for each position that must be filled (you will receive a sample ballot in the mail before the election so you can familiarize yourself with the layout of the ballot beforehand). Before submitting your ballot with your choices, you can change your decision as many times as you like. Once the ballot has been submitted, however, it is final and cannot be changed. If you have any questions or concerns, poll workers are available to aid in the process.

VP of Advocacy Nancy Hedinger answers voter questions through hotline

LWVNJ VP of Advocacy Nancy Hedinger answers voter questions

In addition, you can call the League of Women Voters of NJ at 1-800-792-VOTE (8683) or contact@lwvnj.org with any questions, concerns, or comments. Lines at polling places are known to get very long, especially during particularly important elections such as general elections for the Governor or President. By law, if you are in line at your polling place when the polls close, you have a right to vote. In New Jersey, polls are open from 6:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.

If there is trouble with your registration, you may be asked to fill out a provisional ballot. A provisional ballot is a paper ballot that is administered in the following cases:

  • If your registration information is missing or is not complete in the poll book
  • If you moved from your registered address to another one in the same county and did not re-register at your new address
  • If you are a first-time voter and when you registered to vote you did not provide proper identification or the information you provided could not be verified and you did not bring your ID on Election Day (for your provisional ballot to be counted, you have until the close of business on the second day after the election to provide your county elections officials with the required ID information)
  • If you requested a vote-by-mail ballot but you never received it

Provisional ballots are counted only after they have been verified by the county’s Board of Elections.

Voting is a fundamental right and is vital for sustaining a democratic system, so it is very important to be aware of your rights when you go to vote. For first-time voters, familiarizing yourself with the ballot as well as knowing what to expect can be very helpful. The League of Women Voters of New Jersey has a wealth of information on voting rights, important dates and upcoming events, as well as a comprehensive “Frequently Asked Questions” page to help keep you informed.

Get Informed! Voter Guides and Ballot Questions

The League of Women Voters of New Jersey Education Fund is dedicated to encouraging informed and active participation in government. As part of this mission, we have published a voters guide and ballot question analyses. We hope that these nonpartisan voters tools help you make an informed decision when you head out to the polls on November 6th.

Voter Guides

The League of Women Voters of New Jersey Education Fund asked all N.J. candidates running for U.S. Senate and House of Representatives twelve policy questions. These questions cover an array of important issues including unemployment, clean energy, education, immigration and health care.

U.S. Senate candidate answers are available here.

U.S. House of Representatives answers are available here.       

Ballot Question Analyses

This year, there will be two statewide public questions on the ballot. One will ask if voters approve the “Building Our Future Bond Act” and the second will ask if voters approve an amendment to the NJ Constitution to allow contributions set by law to be taken from the salaries of Supreme Court Justices and Superior Court judges for their employee benefits.

To help voters understand these questions we have published an analysis of each question. This information includes the ballot question and the interpretive statement as they appear on the ballot, as well as helpful background on the issue, and balanced reasons a voter may vote yes and reasons a voter may vote no. The League of Women Voters of New Jersey does not have a position on either question.

Ballot question analyses are available here.

We hope that you find this information useful. If you have any questions, please contact the League of Women Voters of New Jersey at 1-800-792-VOTE (8683) and be sure to check out our website  for other important voting information.

Why I vote.

This is a guest post written by LWVNJ intern, Emily Garland.

When I was younger and had off from school on Election Day, my aunt would watch my sister and me. Part of that day off meant going to the polls. My sister and I would gather behind the curtain with my aunt and she would tell us which button to press. When it was time to cast her vote, there would be a slight skirmish between my sister and me over who got to press the red button. After all, an 8 year old’s memory of who pressed the red button last year is not very reliable.  I am very grateful that the right to vote and the act of voting was instilled in me at a very young age. I learned voting is more than just a right, it is also a duty.

 My senior year of high school was a highly formative time for my civic consciousness. I was fortunate enough to take 2 great classes with 2 great teachers. One was Government and Law Related Experiences (GALRE) and the other was A.P. Government. In GALRE, we would have various guest speakers come into our class and talk to us about their jobs and duties. These speakers were an assortment of people that played a role in politics, like councilmen, journalists, lawyers, state senators, and congressmen. Most of our grade was based on the quality of the questions we asked our guest speakers. This really encouraged me to learn about the political arena around me; it made it all the more tangible. I think this is a problem with voter turnout today, the disconnect between voter and those who serve the voter. Many people don’t see how their vote can make a difference, but it can. I vote because I believe it makes a difference.

In GALRE, we were required to work the polls on Election Day, which I still do to this day. Working the polls is another experience that has made the voting process more tangible and more consequential. It has also encouraged me to be informed about each and every election.

More importantly, working the polls has really illustrated to me who votes. These people who vote are the ones being heard and represented. I wish I would see more people like me, young and female, voting. Seeing a young person at the polls is so rare. I vote because I want more people like me to vote and be represented.

In AP Government, my teacher had a way of explaining things to our class in a way we had never thought of before. She told us that those we elect’s jobs are reliant upon those who vote. If you don’t vote, what should someone care about you since you have no say in whether or not they keep their job?

In a perfect democracy, everyone would come together and discuss their wants and needs, and no decision would be made final until everyone was satisfied. In a country that roughly 312 million call home, this isn’t very practical. So instead we have a republic where we choose people to represent our wants, needs, and priorities. I vote because as a young woman who is about to graduate college, I have specific needs and priorities that I want my government to hear and represent.  These include women’s rights, environmental protection and affordable higher education.  Since our country is so large and diverse, not everyone has these same priorities, but voting is the great equalizer that allows all these voices to come together and be heard. I vote because we live in a republic and I want my wants and needs represented.

I want a truly functioning and healthy republic. I believe the best way to accomplish this is to have complete voter participation. Although I am not everybody, I am still part of it. This is why I vote. To do your part, visit the League of Women Voters of New Jersey’s website for more information on voting and how you can register to vote.  Tuesday, October 16th is the last day to register to vote so don’t hesitate a moment longer to play your democratic part!

Everything You Need to Vote!

This is a guest post written by Emily Garland, League of Women Voters of New Jersey intern.

The following is the first of a series of blog posts titled “Why Do I Vote?” In the series, different League members, myself included, explain why they vote. It is our hope that through reading the blog posts of the civically engaged, others will want to follow suit.

One of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey‘s goals is to expand voter participation. To expand participation, we try to make it as easy and accessible as possible. If this series has inspired even one person to register to vote, we can say it was successful. But in all honesty, we definitely want more than just one person to be inspired to get to the polls on November 6th. So, if you want to vote but don’t know where to start, here are some links that can help get you started!

Here is a page that has all the information you could need about voting in New Jersey. Questions answered include, Who can register? How do I register? Where do I register?  How do I vote by mail? When should I re-register?

To register to vote click on your county, print out the form, complete the form and mail it in.

October 16th is the last day to register to vote.

In New Jersey, you do not need a reason to apply for a vote by mail ballot! If you are going to be too far from your polling location on Election Day, or simply do not feel like leaving your house, here is a link for vote by mail applications, formally known as absentee ballots. You simply click on your county, print out the form, fill it out, and mail it in.

To receive a ballot by mail, the application must be received by your county clerk by October 30th (seven day prior to the election).

A voter may also apply in person for a vote by mail ballot to the county clerk until 3:00 pm the day before the election – November 5th.  You can find your County Clerk and Commissioner of Registration on this page.

All vote by mail ballots must be returned to the Board of Elections by 8 pm on Election Day, November 6th.

If you think you are registered, but aren’t sure you can find out here.

Now that you are registered, and planning to vote the next step is to find out your polling location.

All NJ polls are open at 6 am and close at 8 pm. If you are in line at the polling location at 8 pm, you still have the right to vote.

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey and the League of Women Voters of New Jersey has created a voting rights card that lists all your voting rights.

Of course, if you still have questions you can call the League of Women Voters of New Jersey’s Voter Assistance Hotline at 1-800-792-VOTE (8683)

Stay tuned for another post tomorrow…

Register to Vote – Find a Voter Registration Drive Near You!

ImageNeed to register to vote, change your address, or request a vote by mail ballot? The League of Women Voters of New Jersey will be out in communities around the state registering voters and answering questions! The deadline to register to vote for the November General Election is October 16th.

Find a drive near you (listed by county):

Bergen

September 29 & 30- LWV of Teaneck will be registering voters at the Stop & Shop on 665 American Legion Drive from 10am-4pm.

September 30- LWV of Ridgewood will be registering voters at the Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Walk at the Duck Pond in Saddle River County Park at 9am.

September 30- LWV of Glen Rock will be registering voters at the Glen Rock street fair on Rock Road from 11am-4pm.

Burlington

September 19 – LWV of Burlington County will register voters at Burlington County Community College, Pemberton Campus, from 10 am – 2 pm and from 4:30 pm – 7:00 pm.

September 24 – LWV of Burlington County will register voters at Burlington County Community College, Mount Laurel Campus, 10 am – 12:30 pm.

Camden

September 27 – LWV of Camden will be registering voters at Camden County Community College in Blackwood from 11 am – 2 pm.

Essex

September 14-LWV of Maplewood-South Orange will be registering voters at the Irvington Family Development Center from 2pm-4pm.

September 15- LWV of Newark will be registering voters at Nat Turner Park from 10am-2pm.

September 26- LWV of Newark will be registering voters at Newark City Hall on 920 South Broad Street from 10am-2pm.

September 29- LWV of Newark will be registering voters at the Pavilion B building on 108-136 MLK Blvd. from 12pm-3pm

September 30 – LWV of Nutley will be registering voters at the Nutley Farmers Market from 9am – 1pm.

October 1- LWV of Maplewood-South Orange will be registering voters at the Maplewood Farmers Market (Springfield and Indiana Ave) from 2 pm – 7 pm

Mercer

September 15,22,29-LWV of Princeton will be registering voters every Saturday in September at the Farmers Market on Vaughn Street near the Princeton Junction train station from 9 am – 1pm.

September 21- LWV of East Windsor-Hightstown will be registering voters at the Hightstown Farmers Market from 4pm-7pm.

September 28- LWV of East Windsor-Hightstown will be registering voters at the Hightstown Farmers Market from 4pm-7pm.

September 29 – LWV of Lawrence Township will be registering voters at the Trenton Farmers Market (next to Halo Farms) from 10:30am – 2pm.

September 29 – LWV of Princeton will be registering voters at the Farmers Market at the Village Shopper on Route 205 from 9am – 1pm.

September 29- LWV of Princeton will be registering voters at McCaffery’s in the Princeton Shopping Center from 10am-4pm.

October 4- LWV Princeton will be registering voters at the Farmers Market at Hinds Plaza near the Princeton Public Library from 11am-4pm.

October 6- LWV of East Windsor-Hightstown will be registering voters at the Hightstown Harvest Fair from 10 am-4pm.

October 11-LWV of Princeton will be registering voters at the Farmers Market in Hinds Plaza from 11am-4pm.

Middlesex

September 29 – LWV of Monroe Twp. will be registering voters at the post office on Perrineville Road from 10 am – 2 pm.

Monmouth

September 10-17 – LWV of Red Bank will be registering voters at the Monmouth Mall from 10am – 9pm.

September 22– LWV Township of Ocean will be registering voters at the Township of Ocean Fall Fest at Palaia Park from 9am – 4pm.

September 27-LWV Township of Ocean will be registering voters at Ocean Township High School from 7am-3pm

Morris

September 30- LWV of Morristown will be registering voters at the Morristown Fall Festival from12pm-5pm

Ocean

September 17- LWV of Ocean County will be registering voters at the Toms River Library at 11:30 am.

September 20- LWV of Ocean County will be registering voters at Ocean County College in Toms River from 9am-4pm.

September 30- LWV of Ocean County will be registering voters at the Komen Race for the Cure from 8am-4pm

Passaic

September 25 – LWV of Wayne will be registering voters at the Stop and Shop in the Preakness Shopping Center (1220 Hamburg Turnpike) from 10am – 4pm.

September 30– LWV of Wayne will be registering voters at the Stop and Shop in the Preakness Shopping Center (1220 Hamburg Turnpike) from 10am – 4pm.

Somerset

September 29 – Somerset County MAL will be registering voters at the Bernardsville Farmers  Market located at the Bernardsville Train Station from 9am-12pm

More drives to be added soon, and don’t forget you can call the League of Women Voters of New Jersey at 1-800-792-VOTE with any of your voting questions!