By, Montclarion Staff
The devastation which Hurricane Sandy recently raised in our state has been the topic of local and national news since the storm hit last week.
Not only did the storm wreak havoc on those who lost power, homes and loved ones, but many issues surfaced on Election Day, particularly in our state, because of Sandy’s damage.
In the days after evaluating Sandy’s impact on New Jersey, Gov. Christie made many amends to the standard system of voting in order to provide a means to vote for those who were still mixed up in the chaos of the storm.
However, many considered these new methods of voting to create more harm than good on the days before, during and after the election.
One of the most hectic measures taken to ensure that all citizens from New Jersey could exercise their right to vote was the institution of voting by email.
These emailed ballots deprived citizens of the right to a private vote, since they had to sign a waiver allowing elected officials to see their votes in the voting process.
Not only that, but voters had to additionally provide paper ballots as back-up to the email ballots, and furthermore, the elected officials of counties and towns in New Jersey had to first verify that the individual using the online ballot was actually displaced.
This effort, which attempted to improve the possibility of voting for New Jersey residents, amounted to an even larger hassle for voters and elected officials than actually arriving at a polling location to vote in person.
When it came to alternative forms of voting, many preferred the acronym “K.I.S.S.”—“keep it simple, stupid”—the mantra of those who opted for a provisional ballot.
The adjustments allowed residents to vote at any New Jersey polling station using provisional, paper ballots, which were collected from each polling station and counted at a separate, localized county office.
Unlike the email and fax ballots, provisional ballots did not require proof of dislocation in order to be valid.
While voting in Essex County yesterday, many received a provisional ballot even though they were registered to vote in the county.
Although these provisional ballots were said to skimp down the offices to President, Senator and the ballot questions, voters noticed the option to vote for these offices as well as many other in the municipality of Little Falls. These modifications made it much easier to vote.
Overall, this method of voting was much more organized, simple and private than voting by email, which thoroughly overwhelmed voters and the elected officials responsible for their ballots.
Unfortunately, not everyone was so lucky. The situation with online and fax ballots is currently being sorted out by extending the deadline for ballots until Friday, Nov. 9 by 8 p.m., giving online voters a few more days to sort out the calamity which Sandy brought to New Jersey.
Additionally, the New Jersey Turnpike was closed yesterday, making it difficult for many voters to actually get to their polling station in time to vote.
In the face of devastation and disorder, we would argue that as a state, we are all lucky that our government extended help (at least as much as was able under the current circumstances) so that we could perform our civic duty.
Even though some of the circumstances were less than ideal, the fact that we had the opportunity to vote in a time of such distress is a testament to the strength of our state and our enthusiasm to participate in our government, despite the rain, wind and misfortunes it brought with it.