How To Get Out To Vote In Sussex County After Hurricane Sandy
Monday, November 5, 2012 • 5:09pm
SUSSEX COUNTY, NJ – With Election Day tomorrow, Sussex County has experienced challenges for citizens who would like to head out to vote.
Downed trees, poles and wires, even road closures, have changed plans for many. Many usual polling locations themselves have been impacted. And in addition to residences, and businesses without power, some polling locations are as well, and others experienced other mishaps, such as Hopatcong Borough’s ambulance building, had a tree fall through it.
How is the state contending with the voting hurdles, and what do those, who are influential in politics, think about these changes? How are candidates using the remaining hours to campaign, with limited resources? With New Jersey’s natural disaster, should the election have been deferred?
In terms of deferring the election, Kerry Butch, League of Women Voters of New Jersey’s Executive Director, told The Alternative Press she disagreed with the idea, and,, said in a Letter To The Editor, the state has made “tireless efforts,” especially Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, and Division of Elections Director Robert Giles.
“That’s your initial reaction,” Butch said, in terms of the thinking of postponing Election Day due to Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath. “That’ the trick used to suppress the vote. The Governor and the Lieutenant Governor went through extraordinary measures, and, they did a great job.”
Butch said some drastic measures have been taken to facilitate voting, such as opening up the county clerks’ offices, to allow for in-person voting, something not typically done, she said.
In Sussex County, The Sussex County Clerk’s Office has been open late since last week, as well as over the weekend, to allow for in-person voting, and was open today as well, until 4:30 p.m.
Additionally, Butch said New Jersey residents who are displaced, can vote provisionally within any polling location within the state, with the only drawback that those citizens will miss out on the local vote.
Some other steps, Butch said, to help make voting happen in some locations within the state, is to bring in generators to polling locations, and set up a system of transit buses to transport those who are unable to get there themselves.
The state has also recommended mail-in ballots, and is permitting electronic votes by fax, similar to what is permitted by members of the military.
“We’re trying our hardest to get folks the opportunity to vote,” Butch said.
Additionally, and optimistically she added, overnight things could change, with some municipalities getting their power back.
Bader George Qarmout, Conservative Advocate in Sussex County, said he voted at the Sussex County Clerk’s Office. He said voting early at the clerk’s office is the safest, and easiest, and commended Sussex County Clerk Jeff Parrott, and his staff, for the process. He said residents who opted for this method waited on line, in order for Parrott and staff to check resident I.D.’s for voting, and, the wait was not long. Qarmout said the ballot was the same as the mail-in ballot citizens receive.
In terms of the idea of deferring the election because of the hurricane, Qarmout disagreed.
“More and more people are becoming mobile,” he said. “It’s (Election Day) eight to nine days after the hurricane, and the overwhelming majority of individuals have the opportunity to vote, it’s still doable. Something as monumental as a Presidential Election must go on.”
He said if a directive should come from anywhere regarding a change in the election, it should be made at the Federal level.
Qarmout also commended Governor Christie for his efforts in the aftermath of the storm.
“Governor Chris Christie did a great job making sure people were heard by the administration, and I’m glad the President responded in kind,” Qarmout said. “I’m hoping relief comes through for our brothers and sisters still without power.”
In terms of campaigning, Qarmout described those running for office should take a “caring” instead of “campaigning” approach.
“The smartest type of campaign the next couple of days isn’t about campaigning, but caring,” Qarmout said.
He said those running for office should help in delivering supplies, and services, to those without.
“Your goal is to serve people [when in office],” Qarmout said. “What better time to do that than in a crisis? It’s time for those seeking office to help their neighbors.”
Qarmout said there were some difficulties after Hurricane Sandy for volunteers at Sussex County’s GOP Headquarters, with some volunteers unable to participate in the campaigning activities, such as making phone calls to constituents.
Qarmout said after the election his goal is to stay at the forefront of the GOP. He said he believes in lower taxes, fair funding and improvements to schools, ensuring First Amendment rights, keeping government out of houses of worship, Right to Life, and the Second, Fourth, and Tenth Amendments.
In terms of storm recovery Qarmout said at the Federal Level, more preparation should have been made in advance prior to the disaster, to mobilize for help.
“They need to be more proactive, and not wait three to five days,” he said. “Federal agencies should have moved closer [to the site of the storm], to make response time shorter.”
He added, “Once the black Lincolns, and the Humvees leave, that’s when the real work begins [in terms of storm recovery].”
“I’m very concerned about Election Day,” said Susan Williams, one of the Sussex County Freeholder Candidates with the Democratic Party. “We’ve had a lot of damages, displaced people, gas shortages, and switched polling locations.
"Are people going to have the wherewithal to get out and vote?” she asked.
At the height of the storm, and following, Williams explained, “You can’t campaign when people are suffering.”
Yesterday was the first day Williams headed out in the post-Hurricane Sandy aftermath, and still was not sure if it was appropriate to speak to people about the election, when they have so many other issues on their minds.
“I think it’s going to hurt the voting issues, regardless of what side of the fence you’re on,” she added. “We’re at such a crossroads, and, I am concerned it will be difficult for some people.”
In regard to her participation in the political process, Williams said, “In the end, I did all I could do to get the message out. It’s been an interesting journey. It’s been a great learning experience. I’ve met some incredible people. I don’t know where the path will lead, win or lose, I think there’s a grand plan.”
And all eyes are on the race for the Presidential seat, with the main contenders President Barack Obama, and Republican Mitt Romney. There are other candidates, Gary Johnson with the Libertarian Party, and Virgil Goode, with the Constitution Party.
There are some other candidates as well, who are write-ins, including Presidential Candidate Jill Reed, from Casper, Wyo., an Independent\ promoting the Twelve Visions Party, along with Vice-Presidential running mate, Tom Cary.
Reed took time while on the campaign trail, and on her way to Washington, D.C., to speak with The Alternative Press.
“If they would call off Halloween [because of Hurricane Sandy], why would they not call off the election?” Reed asked. “We recall Halloween for a natural disaster for our children. There are people who will be grieving this for the rest of their lives [if unable to vote]. There are people who lost cars. This is not what our forefathers wanted. Certainly, not every citizen across the country will be able to vote. It’s a freedom that’s been taken away because of a natural disaster.”
The Twelve Visions Party “believes the purpose of the human life is to prosper and live properly.”
Reed said there is a ruling class of people who are “dictating to what the rest of our country can do.”
She said there is no middle class anymore, and, there is the non-ruling class of people who are sustaining the ruling class through their jobs.”
Reed was raised by her father, a mechanic, and was trained as a mechanic herself. She studied accounting in college to be an asset to her father’s business, and, ended up returning home to her father’s business being torn down. He had lost the person who he said was his best mechanic, Reed herself.
Reed said she took her skill set, and worked in the oil/minerals business as a Landman, which included reading, and helping to negotiate, legal contracts. From 2000 to 2010, she owned Billy Bean’s Coffee in Casper, and road construction shut her business down. Reed said since, three businesses have been in the site of her former business location, and have had the same issue.
“Government can’t grow business,” Reed said.
She believes in a protection only government, with forces such as the police, and military, backing the government. Reed said there are too many regulations, which in turn, control Americans, giving the message that, “we’re not good enough, and need control.”
“I’m here to ensure our standard of living goes up, not down,” Reed said. “Everything our government does takes from people in society. That’s why we’re broke.”
In addition to a protection only government, Reed proposes cutting the federal budget in half, eliminating the need for term limits, and proposing the Prime Law a tenet of the Twelve Visions Party (click here for more information), be added as an amendment to the Constitution.
Reed said when she explains her stance, that “people are loving it.”
She has taken her message by train across the United States since Columbus Day of 2011.
In some states, however, write-in candidates are not permitted, and in those eight states, even with enough signatures on petitions, one clerk’s office only approved 198 of 600.
“I’m proud of my campaign,” Reed said. “We didn’t take big bucks. We ran on a shoestring. It took a lot of effort and energy to back it.”
Of the Republican, and Democratic Parties, Reed said, “I love the Democrats that they care for the social good of the nation. I love the Republicans for their fiscal responsibility. All they do though is fight and argue semantics, and to get what they need, they take from the people. They were formed for a cause. When you give up yourself to a political party, you’ve given up your independence.”
Where To Vote In Sussex County
Some of the polling places have changed, and some have remained the same, depending on circumstances with the town. The list below, was extracted from a document supplied by the county. Click here for full details.
Andover Township (Districts 1,2,4,5):
From Hillside Park Barn (150 Lake Iliff Road) to DPW Building (134 Newton-Sparta Road)
Byram Township (District 3)
From CO Johnson Fieldhouse (130 Roseville Road) to Cranberry Lake Firehouse (225 US Highway 206)
Byram Township (District 6)
From Public Safety Building (34 Lee Hill Road) to Cranberry Lake Firehouse (225 US Highway 206)
Frankford Township (District 1)
From Frankford Township Municipal Building (151 US Highway 206) to American Legion Post 157 (326 US Highway 206)
Frankford Township (District 4)
From Frankford Twp Firehouse #2 (34 Pelletown Road) to Frankford Twp Consolidated School (2 Pines Road)
Hampton Township (District 1)
From Municipal Building (1 Municipal Complex Road) to Firehouse #3 (160 Kemah Mecca Lake Road)
Hampton Township (District 2)
From Hampton Township Community & Senior Center (87 Halsey Road) to Firehouse #2 (160 Kemah Mecca Lake Road)
Hampton Township (District 3)
From Baleville Congregational Church (8 Church Road) to Hampton Commons Clubhouse (45 Oriole Terr)
Hardyston Township (Districts 3 and 4)
From Company #1 Firehouse (7 Colson Terr) to Walkill Valley Regional High School (10 Grumm Road)
Hardyston Township (District 5 and 6)
From Municipal Building (149 Wheatsworth Road) to YMCA (15 Wits End)
Hardyston Township (District 7)
From Hardyston Middle School (183 Wheatsworth Road) to YMCA (15 Wits End Road)
Hopatcong Borough (Districts 2 & 7)
Hopatcong #2 Firehouse (Maxim Drive) to Hopatcong High School (Windsor Avenue)
Hopatcong Borough (District 3)
Hopatcong #4 Firehouse (10 Jefferson Trail) to Hopatcong High School (Windsor Avenue)
Hopatcong Borough (District 4)
Ambulance Squad Building (514 River Styx Road) to Hopatcong High School (Windsor Avenue)
Hopatcong Borough (District 5 and 12)
Hopatcong Middle School (19 David Road) to Hopatcong High School (Windsor Avenue)
Hopatcong Borough (District 6)
Hopatcong Civic Center (32 Lakeside Blvd) to Municipal Building (111 River Styx Road)
Hopatcong Borough (District 8)
Board of Education Admin Building (2 Windsor Avenue) to Hopatcong High School (Windsor Avenue)
Hopatcong Borough (District 10)
St. Judes Church Meeting Room (40 Maxim Drive) to Hopatcong High School (Windsor Avenue)
Hopatcong Borough (District 11)
Hopatcong #3 Firehouse (43 Hopatchung Road) to Municipal Building (111 River Styx Road)
Lafayette Township (Districts 1,2,3)
Lafayette Township Municipal Building (38 Morris Farm Road) to Olde Lafayette Village (Community Center)
Montague Township (District 2)
Montague Elementary School (475 US Highway 206) to Municipal Building (Rear Entrance – 227 Clove Road)
Sparta Township (District 6)
Alpine Elementary School (151 Andover Road) to First Presbyterian Church (32 Main Street)
Stanhope Borough (District 2)
Stanhope School (24 Valley Road) to Municipal Building (77 Main Street)
Stanhope Borough (District 3)
American Legion Post #278 (119 State Rt. 183) to Municipal Building (77 Main Street)
Stillwater Township (District 1)
Municipal Building (964 Stillwater Road) to Stillwater Fire Department (929 Stillwater Road)
Stillwater Township (District 3)
Stillwater Township School (904 Stillwater Road) to Stillwater Fire Department (929 Stillwater Road)