I am one of the master poll workers in Berkeley Heights. My role is to assist the poll workers in running a fair and honest election. Last week many voters complained to the poll workers about actions of some of the challengers. This letter hopefully will educate the voters as to what the challengers are and what they can do.
A Challenger's role in an election is established by Title 19 of the New Jersey State Statutes. The primary duty of a Challenger is to observe the election, keep a record of who votes and challenge any voter for whom they have a reasonable basis to believe is not qualified to vote. They are to be seated close enough to hear the Board worker call the voter's name, however, they cannot be seated at the same table as the election officials. Challengers are not to interact with any voter. They cannot impede the voter's progress(19:34-6) When there is one challenger per district, it is an easy procedure for the poll worker to repeat the name of the voter. If a challenger is assigned to more than one district they cannot simultaneously expect to hear the names of the two districts. The election officials are not going to scream the voters name so the challenger can hear it over the other districts in that voting location. During the2019 Primary Election this occurrence made voters uneasy and created problems. Challengers representing several districts also jumped from one table to another to hear the name of the voter.
We can solve the problem if the candidate, political party or proponents or opponents of a question have a challenger for each of the voting districts. It would be preferable if the challengers have the list of the voters in the district. This is readily available to the candidate/political party. This way they can easily cross off the names of individuals who come to vote. If a challenger represents 2 districts they need to divide their time between the two and not run back and forth.
In this past election, it was the first time in my 10 years of working the polls that people were hired by a Temp Agency to do the job of challenger. They did not have a list of names and had to hand write the names and addresses of the voters. Often they wanted to know the spelling of the name. During this election there were fewer voters, but in November, when there will be many more voters, this process needs to be seamless.
I hope this helps explain the role of Challenger. I hope the candidates/political parties can get enough people to fill this position for each district.