ELIZABETH, NJ — Union County residents will have the opportunity to try out new voting machines before the primary election.

As reported previously, the county will receive updated election machines in all municipalities this year. It will need to purchase approximately $100,000 worth of election security bags for use with these machines, according to Nicole DiRado, Administrator for the county’s Board of Elections office, who spoke at Thursday's Freeholders meeting.

The purchase would include 485 supply bags and 440 rolling bin bags, DiRado said, which will be sealable and trackable. The bags will be purchased for long-term use, DiRado added.

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The office is holding demonstrations of the new machines at the following locations through to the General Election in November, DiRado said:

  • Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Colleen Fraser Building, 300 North Avenue East, Westfield
  • Tuesdays 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Union County Courthouse, 2 Broad St, Elizabeth

DiRado said the Board of Elections office is also working to set hours for demonstrations in the nine local municipalities that will receive the new machines for this year’s primary elections: Berkeley Heights, Elizabeth, Fanwood, Garwood, Kenilworth, Mountainside, Union and Winfield. The office has scheduled demonstration sessions in Garwood on April 13 and March 4 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The machines were piloted in Westfield during the 2018 general election.

RELATED: Union County: ‘Hackers’ Won’t Get Westfield, After $1.9M Voting Machine Purchase

Vo-Tech Schools Recognized

The Union County Vocational Technical School District received a resolution from the Freeholder board in recognition of National Career and Technical Education Month. Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski, along with Freeholders Christopher Hudak and Andrea Staten, presented the resolution to UCVTS Acting Superintendent Gwendolyn Ryan and various student representatives.

“On behalf of the UCVTS community, we would like to take a moment to thank the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders for their continued support of the schools at UCVTS on our campus, and for all of our programs,” Ryan said, before recognizing the students who attended the presentation. The district also gave the freeholders a package containing several items, including a personalized poster, pins and tickets to an upcoming production.

The UCVTS district is comprised of six academies specializing in various career areas, including engineering, performing arts and health sciences.

Future Farmers of America

The freeholder board also marked “National FFA Organization Week” by presenting a resolution to the Union County chapter of Future Farmers of America.

“FFA and agricultural education provide a strong foundation for the youth of America for successful careers and a lifetime of informed choices in global agriculture,” said Staten, who presented the resolution along with Kowalski and Hudak.

The chapter’s Adviser Bonnie Baldasare, Reporter David Tohon, and Sentinel Beatriz Cruz accepted the resolution and gave the board samples of lettuce and swiss chard grown by the chapter.

Baldasare explained that the chapter used funds from the “Union County Kids Dig In!” grant program, sponsored by the freeholder board, to establish an aeroponic unit. As a condition of the grant, the chapter donates 30 percent of food produced to the community.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

The board also looked ahead to this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Several members of the parade Committee were recognized during the meeting, including Grand Marshal Sister Percylee Hart, Adjutant Kerri Ricci and General Chairwoman Jessica Cunningham.

“As Grand Marshal, I’m thrilled for this recognition. It is an honor, and it means a great deal to me,” Hart said. “The support of the freeholders for the parade, an event of Union County, is awesome.” Hart has been the Principal of Union Catholic Regional High School since 1980.

“I’m a resident of Union county, and I’m committed to unity. And this event brings us all together, and it doesn’t get better than that,” Hart said.

The parade will take place March 16 at 1 p.m. on Morris Avenue in Union, with several activities beginning at noon.