SOMERVILLE NJ - Today is primary election day in the Somerset Hills and in all of New Jersey. Voters will go to the polls to express their preference for the nominees of the Democrat Party and Republican Party for the office of President of the United States, as well as for offices all down the ballot.
Candidates are on Somerset Hills ballots not only for President, but also for delegates to the Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention. There are candidates on the ballot for House of Representatives, Somerset County Sheriff, Somerset County Freeholder, Borough Council and for county political party committee.
By and large, the candidates in the priamry face no contest.
There are two contests on the ballot, one in the Democratic Party and one in the Republian. Republicans will vote in a contested Republican primary in the Seventh Congressional District. Democrats will vote in a contested primary for Somerset County Freeholder.
In a pre-election press release, Somerset County Board of Elections Administator Jerry Midgette set the stage for today's primary. "Since New Jersey primary elections are closed, only registered voters who are affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican parties are permitted to participate in this election," he said.
The last day to change party affiliation was April 13. "However, a currently 'Unaffiliated' voter can still choose to affiliate with either the Democratic or Republian parties at the polls on Election Day and vote in that particular party's primary eletion. You cannot however change from one party to another at the polls on Election Day," Midgette said.
New Voter Registration
As Elections Adminstrator, Midgette oversees voter registration in Somerset County. In addition to its many other duties, the Board of Elections regularly publishes voter registation statistics for Somerset County. In 2016, Somerset County saw an increase in the number of new voter registrations.
There are over 212,000 Somerset County residents registered and eligible to vote in this year's Presidentai Primary Election. That represents an increase of more than five percent from four years ago. During the five months leading up to this year's Presidential Primary Election, the number of new registered voters is up substantially over the same period four years ago.
The new registered voters in the five-month period from Janyuary through May of this year totaled 7,317. The total for the same period four years ago was only 4,108, according to information provided by the Somerset County Board of Elections. "The substantial increase of new registered voters so far this year can be indicative of Somerset County residents feeling more motivated to case their ballots during this year's presidential election cycle," Midgette said.
Of the 7,317 new registered voters thus far in 2016, 54 percent chose not to affiliate with a political party. However, 46 percent did choose to affiliate with either the Democratic or Republican parties. "Despite all the electorate volatility in this election cycle, the Democratic and Republican parties here in Somerset County still seem to have made a net gain in their overall voter affiliations during this pre-primary election period," Midgette said.
Polls will be open unitl 8:00 tonight.