CREST HAVEN – Voting may take longer this November, and sample ballots may cost more to print and mail, but still there will be an overall savings to taxpayers.
County Clerk Rita Fulginiti informed freeholders at the Tue., April 10 meeting that she expects a larger than ever ballot, and hopes that all candidates, presidential, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, Surrogate, freeholder, local races, state and local ballot questions and school board elections plus, in Cape May, a non-partisan municipal election will fit onto one voting machine.
Fulginiti said the countywide saving is expected to be $111,000. Savings will be recognized in part because no school elections, previously held in April, will be held. While the county clerk’s office assisted with those elections, districts reimbursed the county clerk’s office, Fulginiti said.
“The fact that the election staff is not being utilized to run a countywide election in April is huge for me and the Board of Elections,” Fulginiti said.
She said with the presidential election, she will not know until Aug. 13 when the Secretary of State provides a list of all independent presidential candidates how much space will be needed on the finite space on voting machines.
Nor will she know the public ballot questions until Aug. 28 and for local questions until Aug. 31.
While Fulginiti does not expect the need for dual voting machines in this county, “Some jurisdictions are preparing in case of the eventuality if all (candidates and questions) do not fit on one general election voting machine.”
However, she anticipates a sample ballot that is heavier, and thus will cost more to mail.
She asked freeholders for permission to allow part of her $189,200 budget item for ballot postage, advertising and election expense to be postponed until September.
Freeholder Director Gerald Thornton said he was “In favor of those elections going to November if there is a cost saving to the County of Cape May and savings to schools.”
“It’s not a saving to the county at all,” replied Fulginiti, but to the local school districts.
“That (reimbursing) will not be happening. So I don’t expect savings to be realized by the county at all,’ she added.
How much of a saving might be expected, Thornton asked.
“We will not know until September but I expect it to be minimal,” Fulginiti said.
Freeholder Vice Director M. Susan Sheppard, the county GOP candidate for Surrogate, voiced a concern that there might be “voter confusion” with so much on the ballot. “I hope the voters will understand the ballot,” she added.
Fulginiti said in a presidential election, it is not uncommon to have nearly an 80 percent voter turnout and a large mail ballot response.
“It’s interesting to me to see the numbers of votes drops the farther down the ballot they go,” said Fulginiti. At the top of a ballot more votes are cast, at the bottom, fewer votes are made.
She wondered if “voter education” would be necessary to properly inform voters of just how much will be on the ballots this general election.
She then said some might begin at the bottom of the ballot.
“That depends where you are on the ballot,” Sheppard interjected. A round of laughter erupted.
Fulginiti pledged to keep the board informed about the ballot process.
In other business, the board:
Discussed, but made no final decision on moving forward with a contract with Concord Engineering for an energy upgrade project. Work must begin by January.
County Counsel Barbara Bakley-Marino gave the board a presentation on the Open Public Meetings Act and some changes to be made to it. Among those changes no texting among board members during public meetings and electronic minutes of meetings being available to the public in a relatively short time.
Resolutions were presented to the Child Support Unit of Social Services and Sheriff Gary Schaffer for efforts that helped win top statewide recognition getting child support payments to parents who rely on child support to feed and clothe their children.
Prosecutor Robert Taylor was presented a resolution for Crime Victims Rights Week (April 22-28).
To Caring for Kids and those who work closely with the group to mark April as Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month. Blue ribbons were presented to freeholders in recognition of the importance of showing youngsters “you care” especially on April 27, Dress in Blue Day a countywide effort “to show kids they are worthy of a blue ribbon,” stated Freeholder Kristine Gabor.