By JESSE WINTER
For The Leader/Times
COUNTY — Early in-person voting is coming to New Jersey, just in time for the Tuesday, November 2 General Election.
After early-voting state legislation was passed back in March, registered voters will have the option to cast their votes during a nine-day period prior to November 2. Early voting will be available from Saturday, October 23, through Sunday, October 31.
In preparation for the early voting, the Union County Board of County Commissioners passed two resolutions at its August 12 meeting, accepting grant money from the state authorizing the purchase of voting equipment and payment for storage.
The purchase of early-voting equipment is a state-mandated measure with the passage of the early-voting legislation in March.
The first resolution accepts funds totaling approximately $3 million and will “provide voting equipment, including electronic poll books and voting machines, project management and onsite services for early voting.”
The second resolution leases warehouse space “for the Union County Board of Elections’ new early voting and Election Day equipment for a period of 24 months for an amount not to exceed $318,600.00.”
The lease agreement is with Liberty Group of Berkeley Heights.
Voting equipment will be purchased from Election Systems and Software of Omaha, Neb., providing electronic poll books that run on a tablet and feature “electronic signature capture,” according to the company’s website.
As part of the purchase, the county will take possession of 1,300 new pieces of election equipment, noted Union County Board of Elections Administrator Nicole DiRado, who addressed the commissioners during their August meeting.
Ms. DiRado said there was nowhere to store the new equipment, leading the county to lease 5,000 square feet of warehouse space in Berkeley Heights.
“The Union County Board of Elections was awarded a grant of $3.4 million for the purchase of additional voting equipment, including electronic poll books required by statute in order to effectuate early-voting and electric poll book sign-in,” explained Ms. DiRado. In addition to equipment storage, the space will be used to “maintain and program” the new electronic voting equipment.
Raising a question regarding security during public comment was Bruce Paterson of Garwood.
“What kind of security are they [Liberty Group of Berkeley Heights] offering if it’s our voting machines?” asked Mr. Paterson.
Responding to Mr. Paterson, Ms. DiRado remarked, “we are certainly working with our new landlord on security measures for the facility, which will be in place before we expect delivery.” However, Ms. DiRado declined to go into detail as to what these measures are, in an effort to avoid compromising security. “Rest assured, we take the security of our elections very seriously,” she said.
The new fleet of poll books will be rolled out prior to the General Election to be held on Tuesday, November 2.
For the early voting that will take place between Thursday, September 23 and Sunday, October 31, polls will be open Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. — with polls running 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Sundays.
A list of early-voting locations are:
- Union County College, 1033 Springfield Avenue, Seminar Room A/B, Cranford.
- Sampson Community Center, 800 Anna Street, Elizabeth.
- DeCorso Senior Center, 15 E. 4th Street, New Providence.
- Plainfield Board of Education Administration Building, 1200 Myrtle Avenue, Plainfield.
- Rahway Recreation Center, 275 E. Milton Avenue, Room 112, Rahway.
- Amalfe Community Center, 1268 Shaffer Avenue, Roselle.
- Union Township Senior Center, 652 Rahway Avenue, Union.
In more county news, County Commissioner Kimberly Palmieri-Mouded commended Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and Congressman Tom Malinowski for attending the round-table discussion concerning infrastructure and the Raritan Valley Train Line hosted by Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle at Westfield’s municipal building August 9.
“I wanted to quickly mention how much we appreciated having Congressman Tom Malinowski and Secretary [of Transportation] Pete Buttigieg in Westfield earlier this week advocating for improving the railway infrastructure in and around Union County,” said Commissioner Palmieri-Mouded.
She expressed optimism regarding future infrastructure projects such as the Gateway Tunnel Project and one-seat-ride travel into Manhattan for commuting communities in Union County.
“It’s great to see some of the efforts that have been going on for many, many years may soon be coming to fruition,” said Commissioner Palmieri-Mouded.
The next Union County Commissioners’ meeting will be held on Thursday, September 2, at 5:30 p.m., via Zoom.
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