Tag Archives: vote

Vote!

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.

Voting: A Family Affair

The following blog post is written by Jasmine Boddie, LWVNJ intern.

Boddie FamilyIt was Election Day of 2012 at 6:00 am in the Boddie household. I was peacefully asleep when the sound of a knock on my door echoed throughout my room. All I heard next was my mother’s voice stating, “It’s time to go vote.” I sprang out of bed as fast as possible and flew downstairs ready to go. Already waiting was my father and older sister Brittany. Of course the youngest of the bunch, Cortnee was the last one ready. Finally, we were ready to go to the polls. The five of us plus our dog Fancie walked down the street toward the fire station, our polling place. We each placed our votes. However, Cortnee could not because she wasn’t of age yet. This was the first time I was able to vote since I had turned 18. Now in the year 2014 we are all eligible to vote.

My family and I were extremely excited about this election. So, my mother had an idea that we should all go to NYC to watch the voting results. We all bundled up tight and went to MSNBC studios to watch. We got to take pictures wearing all types of gear in red, white and blue. After, the election was decided the streets of NYC exploded with excitement. There were huge screens everywhere with the President’s picture on it. At around this time we were ready to head back home because we were frost bitten by then.

Voting in my family has always been a family affair. From a very young age my sisters and I were exposed to the world of politics. The news and political debates were constantly on television in our house. Many people in my community do not vote at all. They feel as though one vote won’t change anything or make a difference. However, if everyone has that mentality, that one vote that wasn’t cast turns into hundreds of votes.

I vote not only for myself but for the African American community as well. We weren’t always given the right to vote in our history. I tip my hat to those individuals that have come before me and fought for the privilege that many take for granted. I vote for the women that have passed on that were never given the opportunity to express their political views. I will make sure to keep my families voting traditions alive when I pass them on to my children. This way we will have instilled in generation after generation the importance of voting.

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.

Statewide Public Questions Analyses

As part of an effort to encourage informed participation, the League of Women Voters of New Jersey Education Fund has posted analyses of the two statewide public questions that will appear on the November 5, 2013 ballot.

For each question, the League provides that question and interpretative statement as they will appear on the ballot, as well as background information and balanced reasons voters might wish to vote yes or vote no. The League has not taken a position on either question. Use the links below to read the full analysis of each question.

Public Question #1 – Constitutional Amendment to Permit Money from Existing Games of Chance to Support Veterans’ Organizations

Public Question #2 – Constitutional Amendment to Set a State Minimum Wage with Annual Cost of Living Increases

“This information gives voters a fighting chance once they are in the voting booth. Often ballot questions are complicated and voters appreciate the opportunity to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision,” said Kerry Butch, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey. “Using our nonpartisan informational tools, voters can easily examine the public questions and cast an informed vote.”

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.

2011 Voters Guide for Senate and Assembly Races Now Available!

Do you know where your candidates for the upcoming General Election stand on hot button issues like unemployment, property taxes, education, eminent domain, and the state’s energy needs? As part of an effort to encourage informed participation, the League of Women Voters of New Jersey has published the responses of the candidates running for New Jersey Senate and Assembly to 10 hard hitting questions about these issues in its 2011 Voters Guide.  This guide is available on the League’s website, www.lwvnj.org.

The questions reflect what matters most to New Jersey’s voters. Listed by district, the online 2011 Voters Guide provides an easy way of accessing the candidates’ responses. There is a link to help voters find their district, which may have changed as a result of the 2010 census and redistricting.

There is also an analysis of the statewide public question that will appear on the November 8th ballot. The League’s analysis of the ballot question includes the question and interpretive statement that will be found on the ballot, as well as a background of the question and reasons for voting yes and reasons for voting no.  The statewide public question asks if voters will allow the Legislature, when permitted by federal law, to legalize the placing of bets on certain sports events at casinos, racetracks, and former racetrack sites.

VoteThe 2011 Voters Guide, the ballot question analysis, redistricting information, and a wealth of additional voter service information can be found at www.lwvnj.org. In addition, the League of Women Voters of New Jersey also offers a toll-free hotline, 1-800-792-VOTE (8683) for members of the public to call in with their voting questions. That hotline is staffed during business hours and will also be available on Election Day while the polls are open (6 am – 8 pm) for voters in need of assistance.