Which is precisely why this opinion in the Courier Post online is worth sharing.
And it just goes to show – we, New Jerseyans, are just plainly being taken advantage of, and will continue repeat the NJCommunity Motto.
Your voice matters!
LET OUR VOICES (and our voting privileges) RISE TOGETHER AND MAKE TRENTON HEAR US. IT’S TIME FOR CHANGE!
Trenton must merge various election days
Elections that happen from February through June should be consolidated on one day so more people go to the polls.
Saturday was Election Day, although you probably missed it.
Across South Jersey, in Voorhees, Mount Laurel, Haddon Township, Deptford, Winslow and elsewhere, the polls were open for voters to decide on multimillion-dollar budgets for local fire districts. As usual, however, hardly anyone voted because hardly anyone remembered the races were going on. This is the continual problem of having local fire districts put their operating budgets and commissioner candidates up for election every year on a Saturday in mid-February, when no one is thinking about going to the polls.
This is why the collection of various elections staggered throughout the winter and spring each year in New Jersey — fire district races in February, school board and budgets in April, nonpartisan municipal races in May and partisan primaries in June — need to be combined on one election day. Factoring in the assigned dates when school districts can hold bond referendum votes, there are often nine or 10 election days in New Jersey each year. That’s too many for voters to keep track of.
In Winslow, population 38,600, just 621 people voted on the $2.9 million fire district budget Saturday. In Deptford, population 30,200, just 193 people voted on the fire district’s $3.9 million budget. Turnouts were similarly dismal across the region.
All homeowners pay property taxes that go to fund these budgets. Yet most don’t know when or where these elections happen because there’s little attention given to them. The other spring elections also regularly have low turnouts.
In 2005, the state Legislature adopted an elections reform package that, among other things, made New Jersey’s presidential primary relevant by moving it from June to early February. However, like most reform to come out of Trenton, the package had a major void — it left out election consolidation, even after some of the package’s champions in the Legislature acknowledged how important it was to reduce the number of election days.
Combining all these spring elections on one day will save money by lessening the number of days poll workers must be paid and voting machines must be wheeled out. It will also work to drive up turnout. Over time, people will get used to going to the polls in the spring to vote on a number of things.
Sadly, there are those who probably want to keep turnouts low and keep the elections spread out. Low turnouts mean a few insiders can more easily control an election’s result.
It’s time to change that. It’s undemocratic and foolish to hold elections in a way that drives down turnout.