RARITAN, NJ - The Raritan Borough council unanimously passed a nonbinding Voter Choice Resolution Sept. 8, declaring its opinion that in-person voting should be an option for the general election.
In August, Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order declaring a primarily mail-in general election in New Jersey. Registered voters are to receive a prepaid, return-postage mail-in ballot, and only people with disabilities are permitted to vote by polling machines, though registered voters can vote by a provisional ballot.
The purpose of the change in voting for this year, the governor has said, is to continue to manage the spread of covid-19 by not having people crowding at the polls.
Throughout the state, many counties and towns have proposed resolutions in opposition to the governor’s executive order and the exclusive use of mail-in ballots. If people feel safe voting in person, they should have the option to, they say.
Council president Nicolas Carra proposed the resolution in Raritan.
“I saw that some other neighboring towns, as well as our county, passed resolutions in opposition to the governor’s executive order mandating an all mail-in ballot general election this year,” he said. “I think with the importance of a presidential election as well as the issues that did arise with the primary election, it is something I wanted to have us pass.”
The Somerset County Freeholders unanimously approved a resolution in August in opposition to the governor’s executive order.
Raritan Borough’s resolution is similar to the county’s, and while they do not have jurisdiction to change the order, their resolution is “letting the higher-up government officials know that this is where we stand on this and we stand with the county in this opinion,” said Mayor Zachary Bray.
The mayor said he supports people having the option to vote in person if they feel comfortable doing so.
A copy of the resolution will be sent to the secretary of state, the governor, the president of the state senate, the speaker of the assembly, Sen. Michael J. Doherty, Assemblyman John DiMaio, Assemblyman Erik Peterson and the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Carra said.
Not everyone on the council was on board with the resolution.
“What are we trying to accomplish by this?” councilman Pablo Orozco asked. “Are you just trying to make a political statement?”
Orozco asked to have the resolution pulled from the meeting’s consent agenda, to be voted on separately.
Carra said the resolution will not change how voting is handled in Raritan, which, like the rest of the state, will follow the executive order if nothing changes prior to the election.
“It’s non-binding, so it doesn’t affect the election here in Raritan,” he said. “(Mail-in-voting) overwhelmed the board of elections in the primary. It took four weeks to get results, and this election, even at the local level, we might be looking at mid-December to find out who won in the local races.”
Carra said he believes people should have the option to vote by mail and in-person if they feel safe doing so.
“It’s nothing against mail-in ballots, I support mail-in ballots,” he said. “We’ve done them in the state for many years, it’s just to urge the governor to reconsider and let people who want to vote in person on a machine vote in person.”
The resolution passed with a vote of 6-0.