WEST ORANGE, NJ - In response to community concerns regarding security and safety for school district children on the use of schools as polling places, West Orange township formed an Ad-Hoc Committee to investigate alternative locations.
The committee was formed in July to find alternative polling places, which, by law, must be within 1,000 feet from the district line. The committee was pleased to discover that there were several possible locations. The information is being finalized for submission to Essex County Board of Elections Clerk Linda von Nessi. The county has the ultimate approval on the determination of polling locations.
At the Oct. 29 Township Council Meeting, resident Debbie Korczucowski expressed her concerns over her son's safety at St. Cloud School, noting the multipurpose room where voting was conducted could not be 100 percent closed off from the school. Resident Cynthia Hadley-Bailey, who has worked for the polls at Codey Arena, suggested that Codey had extra space that could accommodate those currently voting at St. Cloud.
Anthony Puglisi, Essex County spokesperson present at the meeting, also promised to communicate residents' concerns to the county.
West Orange Interim Superintendent James O'Neill, who spoke with Board President Sue McCartney, expressed that several districts have been lobbying to relocate polling places from the public schools, and said that Chatham school district had implemented polling place changes already.
Mayor Parisi said he had not realized this an issue until community members raised it. The West Orange Police Department would be present at the schools the morning.
McCartney said they were also investigating making election day an in-service day, where children would not be present, but teachers would.
McCartney concluded by saying that this was a 'work in progress' and that while they were not able to effect changes by Nov. 5, that they were moving forward to address it as soon as possible.