Letters to the Editor

How to make your vote count this year


As we enter a volatile time in U.S. politics, it is important to make sure the voices of our community — your voices — are heard. While this starts with making sure that every one of us goes to the polls on Nov. 3, the political rhetoric you are hearing — that the elections are “rigged” — is somewhat true. Effective participation begins well before the day of the election, with crucial decisions being made in primary elections and, before that, in local county parties. 

Two key factors have shaped recent elections — the polarization of the electorate and the further gerrymandering of voting districts in 2010. Pew reported that only 14.3 percent of House districts were competitive in the 2012 elections. As an increasing number of districts become noncompetitive, primaries become an even more important part of the political process because they are often where winners are chosen. 

Furthermore, as the two main parties move further from the center, incumbent candidates increasingly fear attacks from their fringes — think of Eric Cantor, the former House majority leader, who lost his primary to a candidate to his political right. This polarization effect has forced incumbents to pay more attention to their primary challengers. 

Sign Up for E-News

Why does this matter? Candidates know who votes. Campaigns know the name, address, phone number, and registered party affiliation of every voter. They also know when you vote — in the general or the primary, in midterm years or just during presidential elections , in special and state elections. Campaigns analyze who votes and appear to weigh policy positions on who they determine their “base” to be. By voting regularly, our voices are heard not only at the polls, but every day as our representatives weigh their decisions with our policy preferences. 

However, there is an even deeper factor to consider: the ordering of candidates on the primary ballot.

It sounds as if I may be getting too far into the weeds now, but I promise this may be even more important than the primary itself. County parties determine which candidates receive the “party line.” The party line is the column or row (depending on which county you live in) displayed for the endorsed candidate of the affiliated party. The majority of voters simply vote down/across their party line. This is true in both primary and general elections. Given that, the party line is extremely important in determining who wins a primary. However, the party line is decided almost solely by the county party chair, an individual who clearly holds a lot of power given the importance of the party line. The only way to influence these decisions is to be an elected party district leader within your municipality, who in turn votes for municipal and county party chairs.

I hope the above convinces all of you to regularly participate in the process, especially in primary elections. And remember that voting is easy. You do not have to leave work, drag the kids, or even figure out where your local polling location is. Simply visit the website of your county government and fill out a vote by mail form. Then you can vote from the comfort of your home in every election. Make sure you also check the box to receive primary ballots.

Mark Dunec is chair of the Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ. He campaigned in 2014 to represent New Jersey’s 11th congressional district.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Sparta Police: Stop for Broken Light Ends with DWI for Newton Man

February 17, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – A Newton man caught the attention of Sparta Cpl Rubino when he drove passed him on West Shore Trail with a broken license plate light.  Alexis Obolensky was stopped in his gold Subaru on February 15 around 7:45 p.m., police report.

When the officer was stopping the 28-year-old driver he saw him flick a cigarette out the window.  As Rubino spoke with him he smelled ...

Sparta Police Nab Two on Outstanding Warrants

SPARTA,NJ – Several people with active warrants were picked up by Sparta Police this week. On February 12 around noon, Sparta Police Officer Christopher Favaro stopped Newark resident Alex Nunes-Ramalho, 23, for broken break lights on his gold Chevy Impala. 

 Nunes-Ramalho told Favaro that he did not have his wallet with him.  Instead, the driver showed the officer a ...

Sparta Police: Marijuana Card is Not a Free Pass for NY Man

SPARTA, NJ – A man speeding on Route 15 faces drug charges despite having a medical marijuana card.  Muhammad Khan, 26, of Valley Stream, New York was stopped by Police Officer Erick Finley driving his red Lexus SUV 75 mph in a 55 mph zone, police report.

When the officer spoke with the driver and passenger Abubaker Masood, 29 of West Islip, New York, the officer smelled raw ...

Upcoming Events


Tue, February 20, 6:30 PM

Sparta United Methodist Church, Sparta

Girl Scout STEAM Program

Arts & Entertainment Education

Sat, February 24, 7:00 PM

The Prudential Center, Newark

Sparta Education Foundation Night Out with the NJ ...

Giving Back Sports


Tue, February 27, 6:30 PM

Sparta United Methodist Church, Sparta

Girl Scout STEAM Program

Arts & Entertainment Education


Fri, March 2, 7:00 PM

Wallkill Valley Regional High School, Hamburg

The Drowsy Chaperone

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, March 3, 7:00 AM

First United Methodist Church, Newton

Newton Rotary Pancake Breakfast

Food & Drink

One Injured in Two-Family House Fire in Newton

February 6, 2018

NEWTON, NJ—One man was injured, while three others escaped unharmed when a two-family two story apartment house caught fire on Saturday.  On January 27 at around 6:26 a.m. Newton Police received a 9-1-1 call from a passerby reporting a house on fire. Patrols immediately responded to the area and found a structure fire at 75 Trinity Street police report..

According to Police, ...

Paterson's Poet Laureate

February 13, 2018

PATERSON, NJ- The City of Paterson has given birth to famous athletes, business leaders, actors, and now, a poet laureate.

Born and raised in Paterson, Talena Lachelle Queen told TAPinto Paterson that she has been writing since she was five-years old, and, as she grew older, realized that when it came to pursuing studies and a career in writing, she “didn’t have a choice.” ...

How to Talk with Kids About the Florida Shooting

February 15, 2018

The tragedy of the Florida school shooting is devastating, leaving 17 killed and 15 injured. Our children can easily identify with what occurred yesterday. It will be the topic of conversation today in schools everywhere. School administrators are doing all they can to provide support and guidance. The shootings affect children, teachers, and school personnel. The school shooting ...

Does Marriage or Mortgage Come First?

According to the National Association of REALTORS most recent Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers, married couples once again dominated the first-time homebuyer statistics in 2017 at 57% of all buyers. Team Nest Builder knows it's no surprise that having two incomes to save for down payments and contribute to monthly housing costs makes buying a home more ...

Very Hot Tea Increases Cancer Risk

Researchers in China studying the consumption of “burning” hot tea, alcohol, and smoking habits of greater than 450,000 people ages 30 –79 for more than nine years found a five time greater risk of esophageal cancer in those who engaged in all three of the behaviors and a two time greater risk in those who either smoked or drank alcohol and consumed burning hot tea as compared ...


AtlantiCast Medical Minute: Atlantic Orthopedic Institute’s Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Center

On this episode of the AtlantiCast Medical Minute, we’ll take you inside the Atlantic Orthopedic Institute’s Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Center, with the center’s director, Jason Lowenstein, MD.

Video Link:

AtlantiCast Episode 011

Breaking Atlantic Health System news on this week’s AtlantiCast! Plus, find out why Morristown Medical Center is one of the best hospitals in the nation when it comes to recovering from joint surgery, see the newest center for fighting brain cancer and an Atlantic Health System red-carpet premiere!


Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders February 14 2018 Meeting Video

NEWTON, NJ - Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders February 14 2018 Meeting Video 


Coalition for Health and Safe Communities to Host Workshop for Community Pharmacists

February 16, 2018

NEWTON, NJ—A Pharmacist Workshop will be hosted by the Coalition for Healthy and Safe Communities, a program of Center for Prevention on Sunday, February 25.

The event will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. with registration starting at 5:30 p.m. It will be held at the Center for Prevention on Newton Sparta Road. 

This workshop will provide pharmacists with a Narcan training along with ...