SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD - After months of watching, waiting and deciding, New Jersey voters finally get their chance to show America their political views on the 2016 Election. In one of the most heated, controversial and contentious campaigns in American political history, New Jerseyans vote today in the June 7th Primary.
For President, the ballot will feature a choice of three GOP candidates: Donald Trump, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich. Trump has essentially locked up the Republican nomination, as CNN estimates he possesses 1,239 delegates. 1,237 delegates are required to secure the nomination. Cruz and Kasich suspended their campaigns weeks ago.
The Democratic side Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, once considered a “fringe candidate” and an overwhelming underdog, hung tough against the heavily-favored former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In pledged delegates, Clinton leads by a count of 1,769 to Sanders’ 1,501. The nominee requires 2,383 delegates.
There will be 51 delegates up for grabs for the GOP candidates and 142 available for the Democratic candidates.
New Jersey has seen a recent political spotlight with its primary looming. Secretary Clinton campaigned in Newark on June 1st alongside NJ Senator Cory Booker and rock star Jon Bon Jovi. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, was the star of the show at a rally at Union County College on behalf of his wife. Senator Sanders held an event in Atlantic City last month and filled the Rutgers Athletic Center - capacity of 8,000 - with a large rally in Piscataway on May 8.
A recent poll completed on June 1st from RealClear Politics shows Trump winning in the Garden State. The most recent poll taken by Quinnipiac University between May 10-16, showed Clinton up by a comfortable 14 points.
New Jersey votes on the last major primary date left on the calendar, along with California, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Mexico and Montana. The District of Columbia wraps up the official primary season on June 14th.
Rules governing who can vote in the primary differ by state. In New Jersey, only voters registered with a party are able to vote. An independent voter who has never declared for a party before may declare on Primary Day at the polls, but a voter registered with a party hoping to vote in a different party had to have legally switched parties by May 17th. Additionally, 17 year-olds that would be eligible to vote in the November general election are not able to vote in the primary. Primaries are by nature more select in the people that are able to vote, and therefore get far fewer voters than the general election.
Primaries and caucuses have occurred across America since February 1, when Iowa voted. The goal of these primaries and caucuses are to afford Americans to chance to “preview” who they would choose to be president while awarding state winners on both the Republican and Democratic sides “delegates” that are proportional to the percentage of the vote won (barring a few winner take-all states). These delegates are a running total, and a candidate must reach this number to secure that party’s nomination for November.
A once traditionally “blue” state, New Jersey will vote on June 7th under six years of a Republican governor, Chris Christie. Christie was once a presidential candidate himself in a field of 17 hopefuls and has endorsed his party’s nominee of Donald Trump.
Also on the ballot for Scotch Plains will be a choice for House of Representatives between Bonnie Watson Coleman (D) and Steven J Uccion (R), and for mayor between current mayor Kevin Glover (D), who is running for reelection, and Alexander Smith (R). Choices for delegates to send to the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, respectively, along with members for the Scotch Plains Town Council and Board of Chosen Freeholders, will be on the ballot.
For Fanwood, the only differences lie in the candidates for Town Council, which include Katherine Mitchell and Tom Kranz, both Democrats. 2016 is not a mayoral election for Fanwood.\
Go out and vote. For information regarding your polling location, consult the Union County Board of Elections website: http://ucnj.org/board-of-elections/where-do-i-vote/
Polls are open on June 7th until 8 p.m.