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Jack Grodeska

On September 10, 2020, the Atlantic Highlands Borough Council approved Resolution 171-2020 – Opposing All Mail Ballot Election.  The resolution was passed with a Vote of 4-3:

Yes: Councilman Boms, Councilman Boracchia, Councilman Murphy, Mayor Gluckstein

No: Councilman Crowley, Councilman Dellosso, Councilwoman Hohenleitner

Absent: None

The text of the resolution speculates that a primarily mail in voting process: “has caused and will cause concern amongst voters for dishonesty, voter fraud and voter disenfranchisement in mail-in elections; and the mandated all mail-in voting election will significantly delay election results during the November 2020 General Election in Monmouth County and elsewhere”. 

The very end of the text of the resolution, where action is usually detailed, states: “THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Governing Body of the Borough of Atlantic Highlands opposes the exclusive use of Mail-In Ballots in the General Election in November, 2020 and any future elections except for voters who have requested or request to vote by mail in ballot, and that the Governor and legislators should proceed to plan for an election process as set forth in the current New Jersey statutes.”

In the harsh light of reality, this resolution simply is a protest by half of the Borough Council and the Mayor opposing the NJ State legislature’s N.J.S.A. 19:63-1, mandating paper ballots and mail in ballots. 

The public comments portion of the introduction of Resolution 171-2020 saw an impressive number of engaged residents.  All but one resident, (who said that he would rather vote by machine but realized that we are in the middle of a Pandemic and would accept mail in ballots.) overwhelmingly opposed the resolution citing concerns such as the health risk to poll worker (usually retirees and vulnerable to COVID19), the security risk of using machines connected to the internet that could be hacked and votes changed by foreign operatives, the risk of using a touch screen during a pandemic, and many saw this resolution as political theater and a waste of time and taxpayer money.  The latter was echoed by a committee chair and a councilman.

But this column is not about Resolution 171-2020.  It is not about the upcoming election, and it’s not about any particular political party.  This column is about a sense of community in a small town.  One of the most appealing aspects of living in Atlantic Highlands is the way in which our community always comes together during difficult times.  Living here, you can count on your neighbors.  During the powerless aftermath of hurricane Sandy people of our town held “Freezer Parties” for anyone that wanted to show up.  (A freezer party is what happens when you have no power for several days and don’t want the food in your freezer to be wasted.)  Often, our neighbors show up to help remove downed trees and to shovel snow for that elderly person down the street, when the snowstorm comes from the south and dumps a ton of the white stuff on Atlantic Highlands. 

Living here all my life, I have not always agreed with Council decisions and ordinances.  But I always marveled at how our elected officials transcended the environment of national politics and, while not always on the same page, could always work out differences to accomplish goals and get things done.  I admired that era of cooperation when one joined a political party for exhibiting an ideology which one could agree with.  But when push came to shove, common sense and the sense of community won the day and our Council put aside differences and got the job done. 

Watching the Mayor and Council meeting on September 10th, I came to the sad realization that the division of partisan politics has infected our town.  The optics of that meeting dictates that it is more important to follow party lines than work to ensure that the will of the majority of constituents be considered over politics.   To that end, one of the council members voiced frustration stating that prior to this year the council could always work things out.  He further commented that since last January, he felt that council members engaged in bickering and division. 

Atlantic Highlands is a small town, not Washington DC.  We elect individuals that we know, whom we believe will address our problems and steer our community in the right direction.  Division and derision will never accomplish anything.  Regardless of political party, we are a community. 

2020 finds us in dangerous times.  We, as a community, have experienced a respiratory illness pandemic with a contagion rate far beyond the flu.  We have intensified storms, rising sea levels that threaten our homes and harbor, air quality issues from the California wildfires, and we see violence in communities close to us.  Now is not the time for partisan politics or political theater.  This is a time for our elected officials to lead by example and work to continue to mitigate the virus and address the concerns of our residents with accurate, not misleading, information about the upcoming elections. 

Regarding the election, some of the Council spoke of residents being concerned about dishonesty, voter fraud and voter disenfranchisement in the context of voting by mail.  I would be remiss if I did not provide information that could help people understand what is real and what is manufactured. You can learn more about the process and dispel some misgivings by going to:

https://www.monmouthcountyvotes.com/election-facts/

Pursuant to State law, all active registered voters will automatically receive mail-in ballots for voting in the 2020 General Election without the need to submit a vote by mail application.

The commencement of the mailing of General Election ballots, per State law, to all active registered voters will be on or before October 5, 2020. The County Clerk’s Office has provided a postage-paid envelope for the return of the completed mail-in ballot; therefore, voters are not required to attach a stamp when returning the ballot via U.S. Postal Service.

Voters may also deposit ballots in County ballot drop boxes.

The following is list of Monmouth County ballot drop boxes:

Monmouth County will have 17 secure drop boxes at the following locations that are readily accessible to voters for returning your mail-in ballot:

1. Aberdeen Municipal Building - 1 Aberdeen Square, Aberdeen, NJ 07747

2. Allentown Borough Hall - 8 North Main Street, Allentown, NJ 08501

3. Asbury Park City Hall, City Council Chambers (Bangs Avenue Entrance) - 1 Municipal Plaza, Asbury Park, NJ 07712

4. Borough of Belmar Municipal Building - 601 Main Street, Belmar, NJ 07719

5. Eatontown Borough Municipal Building, Rear Entrance - 47 Broad Street, Eatontown, NJ 07724

6. Board of Elections Office, Side Entrance - 300 Halls Mill Road, Freehold, NJ 07728

7. Hazlet NJ Motor Vehicle Commission - Airport Plaza, 1374 Highway 36, Hazlet, NJ 07730

8. Howell Township Municipal Building - 4567 Route 9 North, Howell, NJ 0773

9. Long Branch City Hall - 344 Broadway, Long Branch, NJ 07740

10. Manalapan Township Municipal Building - 120 County Road 522, Manalapan, NJ 07726

11. Middletown Municipal Building - 1 Kings Highway, Middletown, NJ 07748

12. Croydon Hall - 900 Leonardville Road, Leonardo, NJ 07737

13. Neptune Township Municipal Building - 25 Neptune Boulevard, Neptune, NJ 07753

14. Ocean Township Town Hall - 399 Monmouth Road, Oakhurst, NJ 07755

15. Red Bank Borough Municipal Building - 90 Monmouth Street, Red Bank, NJ 07701

16. Rumson Borough Hall - 80 East River Road, Rumson, NJ 07760

17. Wall Township Municipal Building - 2700 Allaire Road, Wall, NJ 07719

 

You can also click on the link below for “clickable” addresses that brings up Google Map:

https://www.monmouthcountyvotes.com/vote-by-mail-drop-box-locations/

I hope that this information will allay some concerns.  Information, and access to information, is the greatest weapon.

 

 

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